Monkeypox could be misdiagnosed as Chickenpox
Unsurprisingly, one of the top searches on the global misdiagnosis database "myMisdiagnosis.com" this week is for Monkeypox.
Just as the world is reeling from the devastating fallout of one pandemic, Monkeypox, an older disease more commonly found in the tropical rainforests of West and Central Africa, has found its way to western shores. It is now the subject of many a startling headline.
The infection rates are presently low but steadily increasing, causing consternation from the World Health Organisation and other medical bodies.
The fact that cases are arising in multiple unconnected locations does give rise to the idea that cases of Monkeypox may be going misdiagnosed or undiagnosed.
The risk of misdiagnosis of Monkeypox is concerning.
Monkeypox shares many characteristics with the far more common Chickenpox virus, syphilis and herpes. So there's a genuine danger that people will mistake it for something else.
So what should people look out for?
Symptoms are often mild to start with. Flu-like symptoms - fever, headaches and aching muscles are common. Monkeypox causes skin lesions or vesicles, as they are known, which can result in a secondary infection.
These vesicles are indeed similar to Chickenpox, but Monkeypox tends to be larger. It will often start on the face (although they may occur at the point of infection too), spreading to other parts of the body, especially hands and feet.
These lesions are highly contagious, and skin to skin contact can spread the disease. Sexual contact is currently being investigated as one of the drivers behind the current outbreak in non-endemic countries.
Monkeypox can be diagnosed by a PCR test and/or sequencing.