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Monkeypox Virus: Symptoms, transmission, whether PCR is helpful in detecting it

Even today, the Covid-19 cases are rising at a rapid rate in India and if the pandemic was not enough to give us jitters for three years straight, the recent cases of monkeypox virus are now creating havoc worldwide. Monkeypox can be termed a viral infection seen in West and Central Africa and currently, many cases have been reported in Europe and other parts of the world. 

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Niranjan Nayak, Consultant Pathologist at Mumbai’s Apollo Diagnostics, shared, “Monkeypox virus was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease were seen in lab monkeys kept for the study and also the name was derived from them. Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae and is not life-threatening.”

Symptoms and trasmission:

According to Dr Niranjan Nayak, the symptoms of monkeypox are fever, headaches, muscle aches, backache, chills, tiredness and even swollen lymph nodes while one can also notice a rash on the face and other areas of the body. He said, “There can be human-to-human transmission owing to respiratory droplets, from the bite of an infected animal, coming in contact with an infected human, or touching that contaminated bedding or clothing. This virus enters the body through the eyes, nose, or mouth.”


Dr Niranjan Nayak pointed out that taking vaccination against smallpox can be effective in preventing monkeypox but, not many people are aware of its detection. Talking about whether PCR can be helpful in detecting monkeypox infection, he said, “Lymphadenopathy during the prodromal stage of illness is one of the clinical features to differentiate between monkeypox from chickenpox or smallpox. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), detection of viral DNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the most opted laboratory test for monkeypox. The best diagnostic specimens are directly from the rash when it comes to skin, fluid, or crusts, or biopsy where required. Moreover, you need to be aware that Antigen and antibody detection methods may not be helpful.”

He added, “For diagnosis of this zoonosis disease, the treating doctor will take a tissue sample to check for infection. A blood sample will also be required to check for the monkeypox virus or antibodies your immune system makes to it. Those patients with rashes should be evaluated on an immediate basis for monkeypox.”

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