Due to the confusion from monkeypox and chickenpox having similar common symptoms, doctors have pointed out the difference between the two viral diseases.

Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis disease, meaning that it’s a virus transmitted from animals to humans. It has symptoms similar to smallpox but is clinically less severe.

Chickenpox is an RNA virus. It’s not as severe but leads to skin rashes. According to Mayo Clinic, while there is available medical treatment, chickenpox patients often don’t need it and are left in isolation to heal.

According to Dr. Ramanjit Singh, a visiting consultant at Medanta Hospital, many patients misinterpret chickenpox with monkeypox since the former is largely seen during the rainy season.

“The patient may determine whether they have monkeypox or not by understanding the sequence and the onset of symptoms,” he added.

Explaining further, Dr. Singh said that monkeypox starts with symptoms like fever, malaise, headache, sore throat, and lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes), all of which appear about four days before the skin lesions and rashes start. These lesions primarily start from the hands and eyes before spreading to the whole body.

Elaborating on monkeypox, Dr. SCL Gupta, the medical director of Batra Hospital, said that the virus is self-limiting with sore throat, fever and typical virus signs.

"The main sign of this virus is the rashes on the body which have liquids inside. This leads to viral infection which weakens the body resistance. But problems arise due to its complication,” he added.

This clarification came after two recent suspected cases of monkeypox turned out to be chickenpox.

The first was in Delhi, where a suspected case of monkeypox with fever and lesions tested negative for the infection but was diagnosed with chickenpox. Then, a patient in Ethiopia also went to Bengaluru on suspicion of monkeypox but was later confirmed to be chickenpox.

"In monkeypox, the lesions are bigger than chickenpox. In monkeypox, the lesions are seen on palms and soles. In chickenpox, lesions are self-limiting after seven to eight days but not so in monkeypox,” said Dr. Satish Koul, the director of Internal Medicine at Fortis Memorial Research Institute.

So far, India has reported four monkeypox cases – three from Kerala and one from Delhi.