With cases reported in a number of countries, human monkeypox infection is generating global interest and concern as an emerging infectious disease threat even in the midst of a slowly relenting COVID-19 pandemic.
Monkeypox is a member of a closely related group of viruses in the Orthopoxvirus genus that includes smallpox, cowpox and camelpox. Monkeypox virus was first discovered in the summer of 1958 as a non-lethal, smallpox-like, skin disease of captive monkeys at a research institute in Denmark.
The name monkeypox is a misnomer since terrestrial African rodents (rats and squirrels) serve as the natural reservoir of the virus, while monkeys and other primates are believed to be accidental hosts.
The first-known case of human monkeypox infection was reported from Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970, in a nine-month-old boy with a non-fatal smallpox-like illness.