The World Health Organization has declared the Monkeypox epidemic a global health emergency as countries across the globe continue to detect cases of the disease.

Countries like the US, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, the UAE, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Italy, India, and Sweden have reported monkeypox infections.

The UK has also recorded 1,076 cases so far. The Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has urged people to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions, and to contact health services if they notice anything, per a report in The Independent.

The WHO expects to identify more cases of monkeypox as it expands surveillance in countries where the disease is not typically found. The health agency does not yet know the source of the outbreak and has advised countries to take precautions to prevent it from spreading further.

Monkeypox is an infectious disease that is usually mild and is generally found in countries like Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria. It is spread by close contact and is not as transmissible as Covid-19.

The virus can spread through close physical contact with someone who has symptoms. Clothing, bedding and towels that have been contaminated with the virus from contact with an infected person can also transmit the virus.

It can most easily spread during intimate contact, including kissing, touching, oral and penetrative sex with someone. According to WHO, monkeypox rashes can resemble some sexually transmitted diseases, including herpes and syphilis,

Its symptoms are similar to those seen in smallpox patients. A person infected with the virus may have a fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes. It is usually a self-limited disease and lasts from 2 to 4 weeks.

"The main difference between symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox is that monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell (lymphadenopathy) while smallpox does not," according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The WHO defines it as a viral zoonotic disease, which implies that it can be transmitted from animals to humans. It was first reported in 1970 in a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Zaire).

Monkeypox was first reported in 1970 in a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Zaire). Wikimedia Commons