CASES of monkeypox are on the up in the UK, with 106 infections having been identified in the country.

The illness can cause a rash on the body alongside symptoms such as fever and headaches.

It's these signs that are similar to a common illness that children often get – chickenpox.

Just last month parents were warned of a dangerous outbreak of chickenpox and scarlet fever infections.

Experts say that many common infections declined during lockdown but they're now circulating at higher levels, particularly affecting pre-school and nurseries.

But what are the main differences between monkeypox and chicken pox, and what should you be on the look out for?

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Monkeypox is a rare disease that causes outbreaks in Africa.

But unusually, it has started spreading across a number of untouched countries in Europe and the Americas.

While monkeypox is a mild illness which gets better with time, in very rare cases it can lead to death. About six per cent of cases are fatal, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Symptoms usually last between five and 21 days after exposure.

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They start off similar to flu. But then a rash breaks out, starting on the face.

Initial symptoms include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • chills
  • exhaustion

An itchy and sometimes painful rash slowly appears one to three days into illness, starting with the face, palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

What starts as a seemingly harmless red rash – which looks like chickenpox – evolves into angry blisters that can last several days.

The inside of the mouth, genitals and lining of the eyes can also be affected by the nasty rash.

If it spreads to the eyes it can cause blindness.

While some patients may have only a few lesions, others will have thousands, the WHO says.

Medics have urged people who think they have monkeypox to visit a sexual health clinic rather than call 111.

Head of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Mateo Prochazka wants 111 staff to be able to focus on handling other health queries. 


The main difference between the two is that chickenpox will not usually cause a headache and swollen lymph nodes.

Chickenpox is another highly infectious infection caused by the varicella zoster virus, and presents itself with a characteristic rash, with vesicles on the face, spreading down over the body to the arms and legs.

Although generally mild in otherwise healthy children, it can be more severe in pregnant women and immuno-suppressed individuals.

Children with chickenpox should remain at home until they are better and the rash has gone.

It's a very itchy condition and can make little ones feel miserable, even if they don't have very many spots.

Before a rash appears, you might get a high temperature, aches and pains with a general feeling of illness and a loss of appetite.

Adults who get chickenpox will usually have symptoms for longer and in most cases will have more spots.

The NHS says that it is possible to get chickenpox more than once but that this is unusual.

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If you are worried about any of your signs and symptoms you should call 111 for advice.

In an emergency, always dial 999.

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