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Monkeypox vs Chickenpox: Know The Difference; If You Had Chickenpox, Are You Safe?

According to the state health ministry office on Tuesday, Kerala has reported another case of monkeypox in the Malappuram district, bringing the number of infections in the country to seven. As of 2 August 2022, globally, more than 21,000 confirmed cases of the virus [1].

"The infected person, a 30-year-old, had reached Kozhikode airport from UAE on 27 July. He is undergoing treatment in Malappuram. Four of his primary contacts have been put under observation," said a release from Kerala Health Minister Veena George.

On 14 July, Kerala reported India's first monkeypox case, and a 22-year-old man who died on Saturday tested positive for monkeypox. In other news, an Ethiopian citizen suspected to have monkeypox at the Bengaluru airport was confirmed as having chickenpox instead, according to the Karnataka Health Minister on 31 July.

Monkeypox Vs Chickenpox: Know The Differences

Monkeypox: Monkeypox is a potentially serious viral illness that typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes. The condition then progresses to a widespread rash on the face and body [2].

Chickenpox: Chickenpox infection is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Symptoms include an itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters. People who have not had chickenpox or have not been vaccinated against it are highly contagious. Chickenpox can be prevented through the use of a vaccine [3].

Causes of monkeypox and chickenpox

The two diseases are caused by viruses from different families. Chickenpox is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae [4].

Symptoms of monkeypox and chickenpox

• Monkeypox causes larger lesions than chickenpox.
• Monkeypox causes lesions on the palms and soles of the feet. Chickenpox lesions self-limit after seven to eight days, but Monkeypox lesions do not.
• Chickenpox causes vesicular and itchy lesions. The lesions of monkeypox are broad, vesicular, and non-itchy [5].

Fever: Monkeypox rashes appear 1 to 5 days after the fever, while chickenpox rashes appear 1 to 2 days after the fever.

Incubation period: The incubation period of monkeypox is from 5 to 21, and the same for chickenpox last from 4 to 7 days.

Transmission of monkeypox and chicken pox

Monkeypox: Infected animals can transmit the monkeypox virus by biting or scratching people, handling wild hens, or using products from infected animals. The monkeypox virus can also be transmitted from mother to foetus. It is also possible for the virus to spread by direct contact with body fluids or sores on an infected individual, as well as through materials that have been in direct contact with body fluids or sores, such as clothing or linens [6].

Chickenpox: However, it can easily spread to individuals who have never had the disease or have never been vaccinated against it. A person who has it can infect up to 90 per cent of their friends and family members who are not immune to it. Chickenpox is primarily transmitted through close contact with someone who has the disease. A person who has had chickenpox or has been vaccinated rarely becomes infected again. Therefore, it is unlikely that they will experience severe symptoms, even if they do [7][8].

On A Final Note...

Even though monkeypox and chickenpox might share some symptoms such as fever, rash, body aches, and fatigue, there are clear differences between the two in terms of their lesions, incubation period, and transmission.

What happens if pregnant woman gets monkeypox?

Pregnant women are at risk of transmitting the virus to their foetus, and the virus can cause miscarriages and other pregnancy-related complications.

Are only men at risk of monkeypox?

There are many misconceptions about monkeypox, the most important of which is that it is only a risk for men who have sexual activity with men. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The virus does not discriminate, so we must battle this misconception while also caring for a vulnerable group of individuals. There is also a stigma that keeps people from seeking treatment. 

Are kids at risk of monkeypox?

Some people may be more vulnerable to complications from the monkeypox infection. Children under eight, pregnant women, and individuals with immunocompromised conditions fall into this category. A monkeypox infection puts these individuals at a higher risk of developing complications and also at a higher risk of developing potentially fatal complications.

If you had chickenpox, are you safe?

No. Experts point out that having had chickenpox does not save one from contracting the monkeypox infection. You do not develop any immunity at all against monkeypox from chickenpox. But experts have pointed out that those who have received the smallpox vaccination have lesser chances of contracting monkeypox.

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