Causes of monkey pox and chicken pox

Monkey pox vs Chicken pox: What you should know

The causes of Monkey pox and chicken pox are both members of the pox family. However, the cause of chickenpox is varicella-zoster virus.



Some of the monkey pox symptoms are similar to chickenpox such as flu-like symptoms, cold, fever, malaise, fatigue, body ache and characteristic rash. However, there are some distinguishing features between monkey pox and chicken pox of which includes their causes;

  • Causative Agent: Orthopoxvirus in the Poxviridae family is the cause of Monkey pox. It is one of the four species of Orthopoxviruses that are pathogenic to humans. The other three are vaccinia virus, variola virus (small pox) and cowpox virus. Varicella-zoster virus (Herpesviruses) is the cause of chicken pox, which is highly contagious.
  • Rash: The rashes caused by monkey pox and chickenpox manifest differently in the skin. Rashes in monkey pox develop within 1-5 days and it begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body including palms and soles. In the case of chickenpox, rashes appear 1-2 days after fever. It typically starts on the chest, back, face and finally, the entire body except palms and soles.
  • Incubation Period (the period between exposure to disease to the appearance of the first symptoms): The incubation period for monkey pox is usually within 5-21 days. The incubation period for chickenpox is 5-7 days.
  • Host: Animal host for monkey pox include a range of rodents and non-human primates. Whereas for chickenpox, humans are the only reservoir for the virus.

 Other features include;

  • Mode of transmission: transmission of the Monkey Pox virus is through various means such as handling infected animals, bite or scratch from infected animals, from mother to fetus, direct contact with body fluid or sores on an infected person, broken skin, respiratory tract or mucous membrane. On the other hand, chickenpox virus spreads mainly via close contact with someone who has chickenpox to others who have never had the disease or yet to receive any vaccines.
  • Lymph nodes: Monkey pox causes swelling of lymph nodes while for chickenpox, swelling of the lymph nodes are visible. This is a major distinguishing feature between monkey pox and chickenpox.
  • Treatment: In monkey pox, you do not require any specific treatment but administration of smallpox vaccine to infected persons and their contacts. The chickenpox vaccine is very safe and effective at treating the disease.
  • Prevention: various measures can be taken to prevent infection by monkey pox such as avoiding contact with infected animals, avoid close contact with beddings or nasal droplets from infected persons, etc. The most effective way to prevent chickenpox is to get chickenpox vaccine.
  • Mortality Rate: For monkey pox, death occurs in 1-10% of cases depending on the strain. Death rarely occurs in people with chickenpox.



Monkey pox is in no way similar to Covid-19 so there no cause for panic. First of all, monkey pox requires very close contact to spread, mostly skin-to-skin contact with infected persons. This is why more cases of the outbreak have been seen in bisexual men. This may be due to their proactive engagement with sexual-health services.

By contrast, Covid-19 spreads quickly and easily via various means. Coronavirus can spread simply by talking with another person, or sharing a room, or in rare cases, being inside a room that an infected person had previously been. It is also extremely contagious when you compare it with Monkey pox.

It is important therefore for you to be vigilant and pay close attention to your health status. Also, if you are due for a sexual health check-up, do not hesitate to do so even if you do not have any symptoms.


Open chat
WhatsApp Nature's Field
How can we assist you?