How to identify chicken pox apart from monkey pox

10 August 2022

The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined monkeypox as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined monkeypox as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). However, some people may think that monkeypox is similar to ordinary chickenpox while actually, monkeypox can have a more serious impact and should not be taken lightly. Let’s find out the difference between monkeypox and chickenpox.

The difference between monkeypox and


Indeed, at first glance monkeypox and chickenpox are very similar. Both of them manifest on the skin and both are viral infections. However, there are some notable differences between monkeypox and chickenpox which are: 

1. Symptoms

The typical symptom of chickenpox is the appearance of skin rash that gradually develops into fluid-filled blisters before turning into scabs. Usually, the rash would firstly appear on chest and back which then spreads to the face and to other parts of the body, including the mouth, eyelids, or genital area.

Unlike chickenpox, the rash that is a symptom of monkeypox usually appears on the face and mouth first, then spreads throughout the body. In addition, monkeypox can cause swelling of the lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) which is not the case with chickenpox.

2. Cause

Although the symptoms resulting from the viral infection in chickenpox and monkeypox are rather similar, they are caused by different viruses. Chickenpox is caused by a virus called varicella-zoster. This is a type of herpes virus that can also cause shingles (herpes zoster).

On the other hand, monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus that comes from the Orthopoxvirus genus. Other viruses belonging to this genus include variola, cowpox, and vaccinia viruses.

3. Contagion

The chickenpox virus can spread easily among humans. If you've never had chickenpox in your life before, you're more likely to catch it when you're exposed to their virus. When someone is in contact with a chickenpox patient, transmission can occur. You can also get infected by inhaling air that is contaminated by the patient’s droplets when they sneeze or cough.

On the other hand, transmission of monkeypox among humans is not so common. You will not easily get infected just by light contact. It takes intimate contact such as sexual intercourse, kissing, or hugging for the virus to transmit. But you may get infected if you touch or get in contact with monkeypox patient’s blisters and then touch your face area without washing your hands first.

4. Disease Severity

Although easily transmitted, chickenpox virus generally will not cause serious illness in healthy children. Symptoms can improve within 4-7 days.

Nevertheless, there is still a risk of the disease worsening and risk of complications in chickenpox. However, this rarely occurs, especially after the introduction of chickenpox vaccine.

On the other hand, monkeypox symptoms can last longer, about 2-4 weeks. In Africa, monkeypox has caused the death of 1 in 10 people who were infected.

Although the possibility of the spread of monkeypox in Indonesia is still low, it is important for you to take general precautions by diligently washing your hands and avoiding direct interaction or contact with wild animals. Also ensure you have fever-reducing medicine containing paracetamol in your first-aid kit as initial treatment for fever in you household.


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