health-related fact checks

Monkeypox has milder symptoms and is rarely fatal compared to smallpox

Rappler.com
Monkeypox has milder symptoms and is rarely fatal compared to smallpox
While monkeypox and smallpox belong to the same family of orthopoxvirus, the fatality rate of monkeypox is much lower than smallpox

Claim: Monkeypox is similar to smallpox.

Rating: MISSING CONTEXT

What happened: In a press conference on Monday, August 1, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. made a comment about monkeypox, saying, “Even then I want to be very clear to everyone, this is not COVID, hindi kagaya ng COVID ito, hindi nakakatakot kagaya ng COVID, ’yung monkeypox para kang may smallpox.

(Even then I want to be very clear to everyone, this is not COVID, this is not like COVID, this is not threatening like COVID, getting infected with monkeypox is just like having smallpox.)

Why we fact-checked this: There are already several news reports and different Facebook pages that published this statement. This claim may cause confusion or even panic among the public.

The bottom line: While monkeypox and smallpox belong to the same family of orthopoxvirus, the fatality rate of monkeypox is much lower than smallpox. Also, the symptoms and ways of transmission of these two infectious diseases are different.

What the health experts say: According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox is a “rare disease” that belongs to the “same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox.” Symptoms of monkeypox are quite similar to smallpox, but these symptoms are “milder” and “rarely fatal.” CDC also clarified that monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

  • Fatality rate: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the current fatality ratio of monkeypox is around 3-6%. As recorded by the US CDC, the fatality rate of smallpox during the smallpox era was approximately 30% for unvaccinated individuals.

What are the symptoms: A person with monkeypox or smallpox may experience similar symptoms like fever, head and body aches, chills, vomiting, and exhaustion. But symptoms of swollen lymph nodes and respiratory symptoms may be seen for monkeypox patients.

  • Rashes: Monkeypox rash may appear on or near the genitals or anus. This rash can also spread to other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or even the mouth. As for smallpox, rashes may start appearing on the tongue and mouth, and when these rashes become sores and start breaking out, they will also start appearing on the face, arms, hand, and even on the legs.

How it spreads: Monkeypox can spread through direct, intimate, or close contact. This entails contact with the rashes or fluids from an infected person. Touching or using the same objects from an infected person can also be a way of transmission. Animals can also carry and spread the virus. 

Meanwhile, smallpox can spread through droplets from a person’s coughing or sneezing. A person infected with smallpox is contagious once the first sores appear in their mouth or throat, and only humans can spread this virus. – Erick Prynze Sazon/Rappler.com

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