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Monkeypox vs Smallpox: What is the Difference?

Explore the contrasts: monkeypox causes lymph node swelling, while smallpox doesn't. Learn symptoms, transmission, and survival rates to discern and safeguard against each.

  • 13 Feb 2024
  • 3 min read
  • 45 views

The key difference between monkeypox and smallpox is that monkeypox causes the swelling of lymph nodes, but smallpox doesn't cause lymphadenopathy. Usually, the lymph node swelling affects some localised areas of your body, or it may impact several parts, such as the neck and armpit.

Still, people tend to confuse monkeypox and smallpox. This is because the two often present similar symptoms. But even though both spread from an infected person, smallpox is more severe than monkeypox.

What is the Difference between Monkeypox and Smallpox?

1. Symptoms

Monkeypox presents symptoms similar to smallpox, but monkeypox is less severe. According to MedlinePlus, the signs that monkeypox present tend to be milder than those of smallpox. 

Monkeypox- Within the first 5 days, the common symptoms include swelling of the lymph nodes, fever, muscle aches, and headaches. Skin eruptions start appearing up to 3 days after the onset of the fever. It affects the face, hands, feet, corneas, genitalia, and other body parts. Generally, most people begin showing symptoms around 6-13 days after infection. However, it can take up to 21 days for some people to show the signs.

Smallpox- Patients develop liquid-filled bumps and rashes within 3 days of infection. The bumps and rashes start on the face and hands and can spread all over the body. The other symptoms that may follow include fever, severe headache, backache, abdominal pains, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

2. Transmission

Monkeypox- Monkeypox is less infectious than smallpox. A person with the monkeypox virus can spread it as early as symptoms develop until their rashes heal fully, all scabs fall off, and a fresh skin layer forms. This often takes around 2-4 weeks. Surprisingly, researchers also discovered that some individuals can spread monkeypox to others from as early as 1- 4 days before their symptoms develop.

Smallpox- The smallpox transmission happens from close contact with the infected person. It has an incubation period of around 7- 17 days. 

3. Survival Rate

Monkeypox- the disease is hardly fatal, with a survival rate of 99%

Smallpox- Historically, about 30% of cases were fatal.

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Conclusion

To know the differences between monkeypox vs smallpox, you should note that monkeypox causes large lymph node swellings. However, smallpox does not cause swelling in the lymph glands. While both illnesses may sound similar with typical symptoms and skin eruptions, they are two different diseases. Each presents varying transmission and severity. Thus, the treatment and prevention measures differ. Understanding the main differences between monkeypox and smallpox can help you seek the proper treatment regimen. It also helps to protect your loved ones from catching the infection.

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