Doctors emphasize the need to differentiate between the two viral infections to dispel confusion
In a recent development, medical experts are stressing the importance of differentiating between monkeypox and chickenpox, as the two viral infections share similar symptoms such as skin rashes and fever. Doctors are urging individuals to consult medical professionals to dispel any doubts and ensure accurate diagnosis and treatment. This clarification is crucial, particularly during the rainy season when viral infections become more prevalent.
Monkeypox, a viral zoonosis, exhibits symptoms similar to those seen in smallpox patients, albeit with less severity. According to Dr. Ramanjit Singh, a visiting consultant in dermatology at Medanta Hospital, monkeypox typically begins with fever, malaise, headache, and occasionally sore throat and cough. These symptoms are followed by swollen lymph nodes and appear four days before the onset of skin lesions and rashes, primarily starting on the hands and eyes and spreading throughout the body.
Experts emphasize that monkeypox exhibits additional symptoms beyond skin involvement, making it important to consult a doctor to accurately identify the infection. Recent cases have revealed misdiagnosed instances of chickenpox mistaken for monkeypox. For instance, a patient admitted to Delhi’s LNJP Hospital with fever and lesions was tested negative for monkeypox but diagnosed with chickenpox. Similarly, an Ethiopian citizen in Bengaluru, showing symptoms similar to monkeypox, was confirmed to have chickenpox.
Dr. Satish Koul, Director of Internal Medicine at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, explains that monkeypox lesions are larger than those of chickenpox and are observed on the palms and soles. Chickenpox lesions, on the other hand, are self-limiting and typically disappear within seven to eight days. In comparison, monkeypox lesions are broad, vesicular, and non-itchy. Monkeypox also exhibits a longer duration of fever and enlarged lymph nodes in affected patients.
Regarding chickenpox, Dr. S.C.L. Gupta, the medical director of Batra Hospital, explains that the virus causing chickenpox is an RNA virus that leads to rashes on the skin. The monsoon season contributes to the growth of the virus due to increased dampness, rising temperatures, waterlogging, and moisture accumulation. Additionally, there are cultural aspects associated with chickenpox, with some communities treating it as a religious practice, isolating patients and allowing them time to heal naturally.
Doctors emphasize that previous chickenpox infection does not confer immunity against monkeypox, as they are caused by different viruses with different modes of transmission. However, individuals who have received the smallpox vaccine have a lower risk of contracting monkeypox, as both diseases belong to the same virus family.