Monkey pox vs.  Chickenpox: What’s the difference between the two?
Monkey pox vs. Chickenpox: What’s the difference between the two?

Monkey pox vs. Chickenpox: What’s the difference between the two?

Monkey pox is a rarer disease and spreads less easily.


By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Due to the increasing number of cases worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared monkeypox a “global health emergency”.

Also, as UK cases rise to 2,208 (as of 21 July 2022), as reported by The Independent, there appears to be growing concern about the spread of the disease.

While many symptoms of the disease initially appear to be similar to chicken pox, there are many key differences between the two diseases.

According to the WHO, monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals). It appears that the symptoms are similar to those seen in the past in patients with smallpox (an infection associated with orthopoxvirus that has been declared globally eradicated since 1980). However, monkeypox is clinically less severe than smallpox.

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Chickenpox, on the other hand, is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes shingles. It is a common and highly contagious disease, The Independent said.

But monkeypox is a rarer disease and spreads even less easily.

The WHO says that human-to-human transmission can result from close contact with respiratory droplets, skin lesions of an infected person or objects that have been recently contaminated. And for chickenpox, the transmission of the disease is similar.

For monkeypox, droplet transmission of respiratory particles usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact. According to the WHO, this puts healthcare workers, household members and other close contacts of active cases at greater risk.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incubation period for chickenpox can be seven to 14 days, while chickenpox symptoms can last up to 16 days.

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Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, muscle aches, chills, headache, back pain, and exhaustion. However, the disease is reported to be mild.

Many of the same symptoms occur in those infected with chicken pox. However, the only differentiating symptom of monkeypox is swollen lymph nodes. This symptom does not occur in those infected with the chickenpox virus.

Once a person is infected with the chickenpox infection, a skin rash (similar to the chickenpox rash) usually appears within 1-3 days of the fever.

However, the way the rash forms for both diseases is different.

For monkeypox, the rash goes through several different stages. It first develops into papules which then develop into fluid-filled pustules before forming a scab that falls off. Monkeypox lesions appear and develop at the same time.

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But in the case of chicken pox, the rash (spots) appear at different times.

The Independent reports that chickenpox symptoms can last up to two weeks, but usually disappear within a week, while monkeypox symptoms usually last between two and four weeks.

According to the WHO, some strains can even cause severe disease. Recent mortality has been recorded at 3 to 6 percent

The UK government has released new guidelines, for those infected with the virus and also for those who have been directly exposed to people infected with the virus.

The government also advised these people to self-isolate for three weeks, not travel and avoid contact with immunosuppressed people, pregnant women and children under 12, the Independent reported.