MDBriefCase will be unavailable due to maintenance from Sunday, January 14 11PM to Monday, January 15 1AM ET.


Monkeypox: What is it? How Does it Spread?

On July 23, 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the monkeypox outbreak a global public health emergency.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated, “We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria in the international health regulations.”

A global emergency is the WHO’s highest level of alert, declared in response to “an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response.”

As of this writing, Canada has confirmed 681 cases of monkeypox across five provinces, including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec.   

In response to the WHO’s declaration, the Government of Canada said in a statement that it will “continue to work closely with international, provincial and territorial health partners to gather information on this evolving outbreak and to assess the possible risk of exposure of the monkeypox virus in Canada.”

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, which is part of the same family of viruses as the variola virus, which causes smallpox. 

It was first discovered in 1958 after two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research – it was first identified in humans in 1970, in a 9-month-old boy living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  

It is typically found in remote parts of central and west African countries, near tropical rainforests. According to the WHO, there have been more than 1,200 cases of monkeypox in these regions since the start of 2022.

Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

How does Monkeypox Spread?

Monkeypox is spread through large respiratory droplets, close or direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids, and from touching or sharing items (e.g., clothing, bedding, razors, toothbrushes) that previously touched the infectious rash. Pregnant people can also spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.  

It’s also possible to contract the virus from infected animals, either from scratches or bites, or by preparing meat from an infected animal. There is no clear evidence of monkeypox being spread via sexual transmission through seminal or vaginal fluids.

Monkeypox Symptoms

Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but are typically milder and rarely fatal. Most people develop symptoms 5 to 21 days after exposure, with symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks depending on severity.  

Early symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • back pain
  • exhaustion

A painful rash that looks similar to pimples or blisters typically develops within 1 to 3 days after onset of symptoms. It commonly appears on the face, inside the mouth, as well as the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus. The rash lasts an average of 14 to 28 days and will go through various stages, starting as flat lesions, then raised lesions, vesicles, and then pustules. At the later stages, ulcers will form that eventually scab over and fall off. Some lesions may cause scarring.

The virus will usually self-resolve within 2-4 weeks, however in severe cases, it can cause complications including: 

  • bacterial superinfection
  • corneal infection (may lead to vision loss)
  • sepsis
  • pneumonia
  • encephalitis
  • death

In recent cases, case fatality ratio has been around 3 to 6 percent.

Treatment for Monkeypox

Currently, there is no official treatment for monkeypox, however some existing antiviral medications including TPOXX (tecovirimat monohydrate) and IMVAMUNE may be useful in some instances.

Staying Safe

For now, your best bet is reducing your risk of contracting the virus. The Government of Canada advises taking the following steps:

  • stay home and limit contact with others if you have symptoms. 
  • avoid close physical contact, including sexual contact, with someone who is infected with or may have been exposed to the monkeypox virus
  • maintain good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes with the bend of your arm or wearing a well-fitting mask
  • clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and objects in your home, especially after having visitors

If you suspect you have the virus, seek medical treatment as soon as possible. 

+     +     +

CLINICIANS: Stay current on the latest treatments and diagnostic protocols for a range of infectious diseases. Join MDBriefCase today for free and access hundreds of accredited courses on a range of therapeutic areas.

MDBriefCase is a member of the Think Research family of companies.

Author Agreement

In submitting your work (the “Work”) for potential posting on the MDBriefCase Healthcare Leadership Lab website (the “Website”), you (“You”) expressly agree to the following:

Review: MDBriefCase is pleased to consider the publication of Your Work on the Website.   The suitability of the Work for posting shall be determined by MDBRiefCase at its sole discretion. Nothing herein shall obligate MDBriefcase to post or otherwise publish the Work, or the maintain its posting in future.   

Editing; Identification: MDBriefcase shall have the right to edit the Work to conform to our standards of style, technological requirements, language usage, grammar and punctuation, provided that the meaning of the Work is not materially altered.  If posted, You will be identified as the author of the Work, or co-author if applicable.  

Grant of Rights:  As a condition of publication and for no monetary compensation, You hereby grant to MDBriefCase the following rights to the Work in any and all media whether now existing or hereafter developed, including print and electronic/digital formats:  (1) the exclusive right of first publication worldwide;  (2) the perpetual non-exclusive worldwide right to publish, reproduce, distribute, sell, adapt, perform, display, sublicense, and create derivative works, alone or in conjunction with other materials; (3) the perpetual non-exclusive worldwide right to use the Work, or any part thereof, in any other publication produced by MDBriefCase and/or on MDBriefCase’s website; and (4) the perpetual non-exclusive worldwide right to use the Work to promote and publicize MDBriefCase or its publications.  The grant of rights survives termination or expiration of this Agreement.    

Warranty:  You warrant that the Work is original with You and that it is not subject to any third party copyright; that You have authority to grant the rights in this Agreement; that publication of the Work will not libel anyone or infringe on or invade the rights of others; that You have full power and authority to enter into this Agreement; that the Work has not been published elsewhere in whole or in part; and that You have obtained permission from the copyright owner consistent with this Agreement for any third party copyrighted material in the Work.  This warranty survives termination or expiration of this Agreement.

Submission Agreement

Thank you for your interest in writing an article for the MDBriefCase Healthcare Leadership Lab website.

Audience and Appropriate Topics

The  Healthcare Leadership Lab welcomes submissions on all topics relevant to leaders in healthcare. Our topics include Leading in Healthcare, Leadership Lessons from COVID-19 and others. We prioritize stories that provide leadership advice to executives and managers in healthcare companies, offer actionable strategies for executing successful projects, and provide interesting angles on current healthcare topics. Submissions must be original work of the authors and unpublished.  When submitting, authors represent that they have included no material that is in violation of the rights of any other person or entity.


Articles must be educational and non-promotional. If they mention the author’s company or any of the company’s products or services by name within the text, such mention should be very limited and used for reference only, not for promotion. (For example, an author might cite a survey conducted by his company but not describe his company’s product as a solution to a business problem.) Articles will be edited for clarity, style and brevity. The final headline is determined by the editor.

Length of Submissions

Guest articles for the MDBriefCase Healthcare Leadership Lab may run between 500 and 1000 words. 


MDBriefCase reserves the right to accept or reject any submission  and the right to condition acceptance upon revision of material to conform to its criteria.   

No Compensation

There is no payment for contributed articles. However, MDBriefCase will give the author a byline. Authors are invited to link to the article on personal  websites, corporate websites and social media platforms.

Author Agreements

Each author understands and agrees that any submission accepted for posting is provided subject to MDBriefCase’s Author Agreement