Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae. The Orthopoxvirus genus also includes variola virus (which causes smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in the smallpox vaccine), and cowpox virus.

There are currently 2 confirmed cases of monkeypox/orthopoxvirus in Missouri. Read more.

Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name ‘monkeypox.’ The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox. Since then, monkeypox has been reported in people in several other central and western African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone. The majority of infections are in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Monkeypox cases in people have occurred outside of Africa linked to international travel or imported animals, including cases in the United States, as well as Israel, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

The natural reservoir of monkeypox remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) may harbor the virus and infect people.

Monkeypox Information for Missouri Health Professionals

Since May 14, 2022, clusters of monkeypox cases have been reported in several countries, including the United States, that do not normally have monkeypox. Health professionals, please review the official CDC health advisory.

If a health care provider suspects a monkeypox case, they should contact their local public health agency, or the DHSS Bureau of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention at 573-751-6113 or 800-392-0272, prior to specimen collection.