Glossary of monkey smallpox |  Understand the terminology related to the disease

Glossary of monkey smallpox | Understand the terminology related to the disease

For the first time, a wave of monkeypox cases (monkeypox) reached many countries that were not endemic for the disease, especially in Europe, North America and South America. Cases are characterized by rashes that have different stages, such as papules or pustules. The infection also causes muscle pain and weakness. Faced with so many different names, it is normal to get lost in some of the meanings, but this can get in the way of prevention strategies.

With this in mind, the Canaltech Presenting a glossary of monkeypox terms, we seek to simplify the main terms and names associated with this disease discovered in 1970. For ease of understanding, we’ve divided the terms into four large groups: general terms, symptoms, rashes, and medications or vaccines.

Papules, pustules, myalgia, and asthenia are common terms to describe monkeypox symptoms (Photo: Twenty20photos/Envato Elements)

Check out the glossary of terms below and learn more about the disease, which has spread in an atypical fashion since May this year:

General terms about monkeypox

Viral zoonoses

Monkeypox is a disease that is initially transmitted from wild animals to humans. To this day, no natural reservoir of the virus is known, but it is believed that it was from different species of rodents from the African continent. Hence it is called zoonotic disease.


This is the name of the disease officially in English. In some cases, the expression virus is monkeypox (Mpxv) can also be used. Either way, the idea is to point out this infectious agent from the orthopoxvirus family.

It is very likely that this name will change in the future, since monkeys are not responsible for the disease. In fact, cases of poisoning of these animals due to their association with infection have been recorded in Brazil.


different from monkeypoxanother virus of the orthopoxvirus family that has lived for many years with the human race: the smallpox. This is responsible for causing the common smallpox, but a successful vaccination campaign – on a global scale – eradicated it in the 1980s, and today, its risks and complications are no longer talked about.

Monkeypox is a virus in the same family as smallpox (Photo: CDC)

self-healing disease

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that monkeypox is a “self-healing disease with symptoms lasting 2 to 4 weeks”. In other words, if a person is healthy, the probability of recovery should be high, since the virus does not remain in the body for a longer period of time. In other infections, such as HIV, a person with the virus will live their whole life.

the outbreak

According to the World Health Organization, “a case of smallpox in a non-epidemic country is considered an outbreak.” Before 2022, only countries on the African continent, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, reported significant cases of the disease each year.

endemic disease

As we began to illustrate in the previous topic, for a disease to be endemic, an expected number of cases must occur each year and, on average, in the same period. Aside from the monkeypox issue, the typical example is dengue fever, which is considered endemic to Brazil.

In some African countries, monkeypox is endemic (Photo: PerfectWave003 / Envato)

community transmission

When there is no community transmission, this means that the disease reaches a country or territory exclusively through imported cases, such as people who have traveled. Due to the failure of epidemiological surveillance, patients arrive and are not recognized, spreading the virus throughout the community. At this stage, it is impossible to determine the source of the infectious agent. With this global wave, different countries are already recording community transmission of monkeypox, such as Brazil.

Symptoms of monkeypox infection

Enlarged lymph nodes or enlarged lymph nodes

One of the symptoms of monkeypox is lymphadenopathy. This is a condition in which the lymph nodes – which are part of the immune system – swell and grow due to viral or bacterial infections. You can feel these changes in the neck, armpit or groin areas.

Even, according to experts, swollen lymph nodes is one of the symptoms that distinguishes monkeypox from chickenpox, syphilis and measles.

muscle pain

Severe muscle pain is also known as myalgia and can be a symptom of monkeypox (Photo: Icetray/Envato)

Basically, myalgia is the term doctors use to define muscle pain. This symptom can affect all muscles of the body or only specific parts, depending on the severity of the injury.

They are severe

Asthenia is also understood as a synonym for weakness or extreme tiredness. Patients who report these symptoms report severe weakness and lack of energy to perform simple activities, such as walking or even getting out of bed.

secondary infections

When a patient is already debilitated and infected with a virus, complications can go beyond the original disease. The World Health Organization explains that “complications of monkeypox can include secondary infections such as bronchopneumonia, sepsis, encephalitis, and corneal infection with consequent loss of vision.”

How is an outbreak recognized?

As mentioned, one of the main determinants of monkeypox is the rash of the disease, which can vary numerically from a few to hundreds. The point is that they follow a pattern – like an evolutionary scale – until they disappear.


The rash of monkeypox appears as a maculopapular, that is, a flat, imperceptible lesion. It’s like a red spot on the affected patient’s skin.


The spots develop into papules in case of infection with the virus monkeypox. In this case, the bangs become higher and can be felt to the touch. It is as if the spot became a mosquito bite.


In the third stage, the eruptions become vesicles. This means that the lesions turn into small blisters with a clear liquid inside.

Monkeypox causes the formation of blisters also called vesicles (Photo: Dr. Noble/CDC)


Now pustules are basically sacs that have pus inside. At this point, the clear liquid turns yellow or dark, and eventually bursts or leaks.


Eventually, the monkeypox lesions dry up, fall off, and form crusts. It’s the same thing that happens when you scratch a mosquito’s bite and a “crust” forms in its place.

Vaccines and medicines against monkeypox

forked needle

The forked needle helped eradicate smallpox, but it should not be used against monkeypox (Photo: James Gathany/CDC)

Although the name varies, the use of the split needle is considered one of the factors that allowed the eradication of smallpox from the world, as the application required only one dose, with multiple needles.

According to Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), this needle is called a forked scalpel, and it consists of a “thin stainless steel shaft about five centimeters long with two thorn-shaped ends on one end.” It is still used today in some fortifications.


The ACAM2000 vaccine was developed by the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, and can be considered a modern, updated version of the formula that was applied against common smallpox in the 1970s.

The immunizing agent is applied through a forked needle and contains the virus in its composition. vaccine. In the United States, a monkeypox emergency immunization device may be used where it is approved for use by the patient, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, it is not the standard vaccine against the disease.


The Jynneos vaccine, produced by the Danish pharmaceutical company Bavarian Nordic, is also called Imvamune or Imvanex. This formula is applied against smallpox and monkeypox with a standard needle – under the skin.

To control the current outbreak, several countries are implementing the Jynneos vaccine against monkeypox virus (Photo: SteveAllenPhoto999/Envato)

For complete immunization, two doses are needed and immunity is considered important already 15 days after the second dose. In its composition is the virus vaccine weak (attenuated). This is the most commonly used immunization in the current wave of the disease.

virus vaccine

virus vaccine (VACV) is a relative of smallpox and gives monkeypoxHowever, it is used exclusively in vaccinations against both diseases. This is because it is able to generate a protective immune response for vaccinated patients. ACAM2000 and Jynneos use this infectious agent.

Tecovirimat (TPOXX)

It is an antiviral medicine for the treatment of smallpox and monkeypox in adult and pediatric patients who weigh at least 3 kg. It can be taken as a capsule or as an injection into a vein.

Source: With information: WHO, FDA and MCTI

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