Monkeypox virus


Monkeypox – information for healthcare professionals

Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, and is a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae. It is a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of central and west Africa. There has been a recent increase in cases in the UK. This page provides information to support healthcare professionals in NHS Wales.


Key facts

The following information has been taken from the WHO fact sheet on monkeypox:

  • Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease with the symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks. Severe cases can occur. In recent times, the case fatality ratio has been around 3–6%.
  • Monkeypox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus.
  • Monkeypox virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.
  • The clinical presentation of monkeypox resembles that of smallpox, a related orthopoxvirus infection which was declared eradicated worldwide in 1980. Monkeypox is less contagious than smallpox and causes less severe illness.
  • Monkeypox typically presents clinically with fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications.

Antiviral treatment options

There are three potential antiviral treatment options for human monkeypox infection. The Welsh Medicines Information & Advice Service have compiled the following table to help healthcare professionals consider the risks and benefits of each of the treatment options.

Useful information

Change history

22 Jun 22            Link to Green book chapter added.

14 Jun 22            Published