mPox: Learn about symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of this disease.


Since May 13, 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) has received reports of MPox cases from 12 Member States that are not endemic to the virus across three WHO regions. On May 21, 2022, the WHO declared this as a “multi-country MPox outbreak in non-endemic countries”.

Mpox is a viral infection caused by the Mpox virus. It belongs to the family of viruses known as paramyxoviruses, which also includes viruses that cause measles and mumps. Mpox primarily affects the respiratory system, leading to symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, and sore throat. The virus can also cause a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. While most cases of Mpox are mild, severe complications can occur, especially in vulnerable populations such as infants, the elderly, and individuals with weakened immune systems. Understanding the symptoms of Mpox is essential for early detection and prompt medical intervention.

The symptoms of Mpox usually appear within 12 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Initially, individuals may experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. This is followed by the characteristic rash and respiratory symptoms, including a cough, runny nose, and sore throat. The rash typically begins on the face and then spreads to the trunk and extremities. It presents as small, red spots that may be itchy. In some cases, Mpox can also cause inflammation of the conjunctiva, leading to redness and irritation of the eyes. It is important to note that Mpox is highly contagious, and individuals with symptoms should seek medical attention and follow appropriate precautions to prevent further transmission.

While most cases of Mpox resolve on their own without complications, certain individuals are at a higher risk of developing severe complications. Infants, young children, pregnant women, and individuals with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and secondary bacterial infections. Pneumonia is the most common complication of Mpox and can be life-threatening, especially in vulnerable populations. It is crucial to monitor individuals with Mpox closely, particularly those at a higher risk, and seek medical care if any complications arise.

The risk of complications can be minimized through early diagnosis, proper management of symptoms, and supportive care. It is essential to maintain good hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing, covering the mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, and staying away from individuals who are infected. Vaccination also plays a significant role in preventing Mpox and reducing the severity of the disease in those who do contract it. We will explore the importance of vaccination in detail later in this guide.

Mpox is highly contagious and spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can also spread by direct contact with infected respiratory secretions or by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus. Individuals infected with Mpox are most contagious from a few days before the rash appears until a few days after the rash has fully developed. This makes Mpox a particularly challenging virus to control, as infected individuals may unknowingly transmit the virus to others during the early stages of the disease. Therefore, it is crucial to practice good hygiene measures and take appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of Mpox.

  1. Vaccination: The most effective way to prevent Mpox is through vaccination. The Mpox vaccine is safe and highly effective in preventing the disease. It is usually administered as part of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which provides protection against all three viruses. The MMR vaccine is recommended for all children, with the first dose given at 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age. Vaccination not only protects individuals from Mpox but also helps to create herd immunity, reducing the overall spread of the virus in the population.
  2. Good hygiene practices: Regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is essential to prevent the spread of Mpox. If soap and water are not readily available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be an effective alternative. It is also important to cover the mouth and nose with a tissue or the elbow when coughing or sneezing, and to dispose of tissues properly. Avoiding close contact with individuals who are sick and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces can further reduce the risk of Mpox transmission.
  3. Isolation and quarantine: Individuals who are diagnosed with Mpox should be isolated to prevent further spread of the virus. Isolation involves staying at home and avoiding contact with others until the rash has fully resolved and the individual is no longer contagious. Close contacts of infected individuals, such as household members or healthcare workers, may need to be quarantined to minimize the risk of transmission. Quarantine involves staying away from others for a specified period (usually 14 days) to monitor for symptoms and prevent the potential spread of the virus.

Vaccination is the cornerstone of Mpox prevention and control. The Mpox vaccine is safe, effective, and widely available. It is usually administered as part of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which provides protection against all three viruses. The MMR vaccine is recommended for all children, with the first dose given at 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age. Adults who have not received the vaccine or are unsure of their vaccination status should consult their healthcare provider for guidance.

The Mpox vaccine is a live attenuated vaccine, meaning it contains weakened forms of the virus that stimulate an immune response without causing the disease. It is administered as an injection and is generally well-tolerated. Common side effects include mild fever, soreness at the injection site, and a rash. Severe allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare.

It is important to note that the Mpox vaccine is not suitable for certain individuals, including pregnant women, individuals with severe allergies to the vaccine components, and individuals with weakened immune systems. These individuals rely on herd immunity to protect them from Mpox, highlighting the importance of widespread vaccination to protect vulnerable populations.

In the event of an Mpox outbreak, swift and effective management strategies are crucial to contain the spread of the virus and protect the population. Outbreak management typically involves a combination of the following measures:

  1. Case identification and isolation: Identifying individuals with Mpox symptoms and promptly isolating them is crucial to prevent further transmission. Isolation involves keeping infected individuals away from others until they are no longer contagious. This helps reduce the risk of transmission within the community.
  2. Contact tracing: Contact tracing involves identifying individuals who have come into close contact with infected individuals and monitoring them for symptoms. Close contacts may need to be quarantined to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
  3. Vaccination campaigns: During an outbreak, targeted vaccination campaigns may be implemented to increase vaccination coverage in the affected population. This helps control the spread of the virus and protect individuals who are at a higher risk of complications.
  4. Public awareness and education: Providing accurate and timely information about the outbreak, including symptoms, prevention strategies, and vaccine availability, is essential in empowering individuals to protect themselves and make informed decisions. Health authorities and organizations play a crucial role in disseminating accurate information and dispelling myths or misinformation.

Mpox can affect individuals of all age groups, but certain populations may be more vulnerable to severe complications. Here’s how Mpox can impact different age groups:

  1. Infants: Infants are at a higher risk of severe complications from Mpox due to their immature immune systems. Pneumonia is a common complication in infants, which can be life-threatening. Vaccination is particularly important for infants to protect them from Mpox and reduce the risk of complications.
  2. Children: Mpox is generally milder in children compared to infants or adults. However, complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis can still occur. Vaccination is recommended for all children to prevent Mpox and its potential complications.
  3. Adults: Mpox can affect adults of all ages, and the severity of the disease can vary. Adults with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and individuals who are not immune to Mpox are at a higher risk of complications. Vaccination is crucial for adults to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus.

It is important to follow the recommended vaccination schedules and consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice based on age, medical history, and individual risk factors.