The Most Common Symptoms Of Monkeypox Have Changed

The symptoms in the latest outbreak of monkeypox are different to those reported in previous outbreaks.

The symptoms in the latest outbreak of monkeypox are different to those reported in previous outbreaks.

The main symptoms of monkeypox are an unexplained rash on any part of their body plus one or more classical symptoms of monkeypox infection.

The classical symptoms of a monkeypox infection are:

  • acute illness with fever (>38.5°C),
  • intense headaches,
  • myalgia (muscle aches and pains),
  • arthralgia (joint stiffness),
  • back pain,
  • and lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph nodes).

However, the latest research suggests that there are important differences in the symptoms in the most recent outbreaks of the disease.

Scientists analysed 197 confirmed monkeypox cases in London between May and July 2022.

The found that some of the most common symptoms were penile swelling and rectal pain.

These are different symptoms than those reported in previous outbreaks.

Every person in the study was a man who had sex with other men, except one.

They had lesions on their skin, most often on their genitals or around the anal area.

The other symptoms they reported were fever (62 percent), swollen lymph nodes (58 percent), and muscle aches and pain (32 percent).

Some patients, the researchers found, developed skin lesions first (38 percent), while others experienced systemic symptoms like fever in the first instance.

Only 10 percent of patients were admitted to hospital for the management of pain and no deaths were reported.

Three-quarters of patients had not had contact with someone who had a known monkeypox infection and only one man in the study had travelled to a region where the disease is endemic.

This raises the possibility that the disease can be transmitted between people who have few or no symptoms.

The study’s authors write:

“Understanding these findings will have major implications for contact tracing, public health advice, and ongoing infection control and isolation measures.”

The study was published in The BMJ (Patel et al., 2022).

Author: Dr Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004.

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