Monkeypox (MPX) is a zoonotic disease caused by the monkeypox virus (MPXV), similar to the smallpox virus, but does not spread among humans as efficiently, and has a lower mortality rate than smallpox

The natural reservoir of the monkeypox virus are, most likely, certain species of squirrels and other wild rodents in the countries of Central and West Africa. Although the disease is called monkeypox, it seems that monkeys are not a primary reservoir of the virus, but only accidental victims, just like humans, infected through contact with other animals and their secretions. The disease is transmitted to humans in contact with the secretions of infected animals, through the mucous membranes or damaged skin. Man can also get infected when bitten or scratched by a sick animal.

Monkeypox can be transmitted from person to person through droplets (close contact) and contact with any dermal changes that occur in the patient. In humans, the disease most often occurs in rural areas in some countries of central and western Africa (DR Congo, Nigeria).

Monkeypox in the world, Europe and Croatia

From time to time, monkeypox appear outside of Africa, most often in travellers infected in Africa and people who come into close contact with them (share a common household, care for them…). In the USA in 2003, there was an epidemic of monkeypox among children and young people who were infected through contact with prairie dogs (rodent), which were, in turn, infected by rodents imported from Ghana.

For now, the majority of all patients are, reportedly, men who declare themselves as MSM, i.e. men who have sex with men. Monkeypox is transmitted by close contact, and anyone in close contact with a sick person can become infected and develop symptoms. All cases sequenced outside the endemic countries of Africa, so far, belong to the West African phylogenetic branch of the virus, which causes milder disease symptoms and has a lower mortality rate than the Central African phylogenetic branch.