Global Health

What is monkeypox and how does it spread?

Cases of monkeypox, thought to be spread by rodents like squirrels, have been recorded in at least 30 countries. Image: Unsplash/Robert Thiemann

Camille Besombes

Infectious disease physician, Emerging Diseases Epidemiology Unit, Institut Pasteur

Arnaud Fontanet

Medical epidemiologist and director, Pasteur Centre for Global Health Research and Education.


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Monkeypox causes lesions that gradually spread over the infected person’s body. Image: Jean-Marc Zokoé, Fourni par l'auteur
Children are more at risk of developing more severe forms of monkeypox. Image: Jean-Marc Zokoé, Fourni par l'auteur

Monkeypox is most often found in squirrels and other rodents. Image: Mike Roemer/Getty Images Nord America/AFP

The Funisciurus anerythrus squirrel is the suspected reservoir of the monkeypox virus. Image: cherifikoukomon, CC BY-NC


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Phylogenetic tree depicting the ‘family’ relationships between the different strains of monkeypox virus responsible for outbreaks. Image:

Have you read?

Emmanuel Nakoune and Camille Besombes investigating an outbreak of monkeypox in Zoméa, Lobaye, CAR. Image: Jean Marc Zokoé

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