MPX (monkeypox) is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe. With the eradication of smallpox in 1980 and subsequent cessation of smallpox vaccination, MPX has emerged as the most important orthopoxvirus for public health. MPX primarily occurs in central and west Africa, often in proximity to tropical rainforests, and has been increasingly appearing in urban areas. Animal hosts include a range of rodents and non-human primates. Source: WHO
Since early May 2022, cases of MPX have been reported from countries where the disease is not endemic, and continue to be reported in several endemic countries. Most confirmed cases with travel history reported travel to countries in Europe and North America, rather than West or Central Africa where the MPX virus is endemic. This is the first time that many MPX cases and clusters have been reported concurrently in non-endemic and endemic countries in widely disparate geographical areas. Most reported cases so far have been identified through sexual health or other health services in primary or secondary health-care facilities and have involved mainly, but not exclusively, men who have sex with men. Source: WHO
MPX is a rare disease caused by infection with the MPX virus. MPX virus is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. MPX symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder; and MPX is rarely fatal. MPX is not related to chickenpox. Symptoms of MPX can include:
The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash. Source: CDC
NIAID provided significant support in the development of the JYNNEOS™ (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex) vaccine to prevent MPX and smallpox. The vaccine was developed for people with weakened immune systems who were at risk for severe side effects from the existing smallpox vaccines. The JYNNEOS vaccine is an attenuated (weakened) live virus vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2019 for individuals at high risk for smallpox or MPX infection. Source: NIAID
Currently, there is no specific treatment approved for MPX virus infection. However, there are antiviral medications that can be used to treat smallpox and other conditions that may help patients with MPX infection. NIAID supported the development of two of these smallpox treatments—tecovirimat or ST-246 (TPOXX), made by SIGA Technologies, New York, and brincidofovir (Tembexa), manufactured by Chimerix, based in Durham, N.C. NIAID is screening other novel compounds to find potential antiviral candidates to treat MPX and is working to conduct larger clinical testing of tecovirimat specifically to treat patients with MPX virus disease. Source: NIAID
Note: MPX is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is conducting and supporting research focused on developing and evaluating treatments and vaccines for MPX, understanding disease transmission and spillover, evaluating immunological characteristics of MPX, and bolstering the critical research resources foundational to support the ongoing public health response.
Print, graphic, and video resources to support MPX communication with partners and community members.
Partners can help by providing MPX information to different communities and various channels. Be careful to avoid marginalizing groups who may be at increased risk for MPX. Keep messages fact-based to help prevent stigmatizing populations most affected. Reference the CDC's guidelines for Reducing Stigma in Monkeypox Communication and Community Engagement.