The outbreak of monkeypox: A clinical overview

S Afr Fam Pract (2004). 2022 Nov 3;64(1):e1-e5. doi: 10.4102/safp.v64i1.5613.


The development of new zoonotic diseases such as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and monkeypox that can cause epidemics and high mortality rates have significantly threatened global health security. However, the increasing number of people with no immunity to poxvirus because of the end of the smallpox vaccination programme has created a vulnerable population for the monkeypox outbreak. On 23 July 2022, it was announced that the World Health Organization's director-general has determined that the multicountry outbreak of monkeypox constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The monkeypox virus is an orthopoxvirus that causes a disease with symptoms similar to smallpox but less severe. Many unanswered questions remain regarding monkeypox's pathogenesis, transmission and host reservoir. There is currently no evidence that transmission by individuals can sustain zoonotic infections during human-to-human transmissions; the continued emergence of these pathogens highlights the interconnectedness of animals and humans. The increasing number of monkeypox cases outside the endemic region has highlighted the need for effective global capacity building to prevent the spread of the disease and its impact on global health security. The priority now is to stop the spread of the disease and protect frontline healthcare workers and the most vulnerable individuals. This article aims to comprehensively analyse the various aspects of the transmission and epidemiology of monkeypox. It also explores possible diagnostic techniques, therapeutics and prevention strategies. A key recommendation is that primary care and public health professionals are expected to increase their efforts to be vigilant and contain any potential outbreaks.

Keywords: Monkeypox; global health; smallpox; vaccine; zoonotic.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Monkeypox virus
  • Monkeypox* / epidemiology
  • Monkeypox* / prevention & control
  • Smallpox*
  • Variola virus*
  • Zoonoses / epidemiology
  • Zoonoses / prevention & control