Home / Science / Health /  Monkeypox vs Chickenpox: Know the key differences between symptoms by doctors

Monkeypox, a new kind of viral disease, has undoubtedly created tensions across the world. While the disease was present in the African continent in the 20th century but has remained a mystery for many scientists and doctors to date. A new research reveals something new about Monkeypox symptoms and their consequences. Among the various symptoms of Monkeypox, certain symptoms have an uncanny resemblance to Chickenpox. Today (July 31) Karnataka Heath Minister revealed that an Ethiopian citizen who was suspected to have Monkeypox at the Bengaluru airport has been identified as a confirmed case of Chickenpox instead.

In a couple of instances reported recently, suspected cases of Monkeypox turned out to be Chickenpox.

A suspect case of Monkeypox was admitted to the LNJP Hospital in Delhi last week with fever and lesions, tested negative for the infection but was diagnosed with Chickenpox.

In the rainy season, people are more prone to Chickenpox due to dampness, rise in temperature, waterlogging, formation of moisture, and wet clothes.

Therefore now doctors and experts have tried to decode the symptoms of both Monkeypox and Chickenpox and highlighted key differences.


Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.

As per the doctors, Monkeypox usually starts with fever, malaise, headache, sometimes sore throat and cough, and lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes). All these symptoms appear four days before skin lesions, rashes, and other problems which primarily start from the hand and eyes and spread to the whole body.

Apart from skin involvement, there are other symptoms too in the case of monkeypox, but it is always better to consult a doctor to dispel any doubts.

Dr Satish Koul, Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute said, "In Monkeypox, the lesions are bigger than Chickenpox. In monkeypox, the lesions are seen on palms and soles. In Chickenpox, lesions are self-limiting after seven to eight days but not so in Monkeypox. The lesions are vesicular and itchy in Chicken pox. In Monkeypox, the lesions are broad vesicular and non-itchy."

Koul also said the duration of fever is longer in Monkeypox and such a patient has enlarged lymph nodes.

According to Dr SCL Gupta, medical director of Batra Hospital, the main sign of the Monkeypox virus is "rashes on the body which have liquids inside". This leads to a viral infection which weakens the body's resistance, he added.

"In case, any bacterial infection gets pusses and leads to blisters leading further complication into the body," Dr Gupta said.

  • If someone had Chickenpox, can they also get infected from Monkeypox?

Doctors have also received queries that whether previous Chickenpox infection makes a patient immune to Monkeypox,  to which the answer is an emphatic no.

Dr Rajinder Kumar Singal, Senior Director & HOD, Internal Medicine, BLK Max Hospital, New Delhi, said both are caused by different viruses, the mode of transmission is different, and the previous infection does not ensure any protection against the new one.

But, those who have received the smallpox vaccination have lesser chances of contracting Monkeypox, he asserted.

However, Dr Singhal said that the smallpox vaccine was discontinued after the World Health Organization said the disease had been completely eradicated around 1979-80.

"People born before 1980 who have taken smallpox vaccine have lesser chances of contracting Monkeypox. Both smallpox and Monkeypox are caused by viruses of the same family," Singhal added.

Due to this similarity between smallpox and Monkeypox, many countries have allowed the 'smallpox' vaccines to be given but in India, it is still not allowed, Dr Singhal said.

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