This disease bears many similarities to smallpox which was declared eradicated more than 30 years ago. Initially discovered in monkeys, the disease derived its name from there. However, there have been reported cases of monkeypox outbreaks in humans. In 2003, an outbreak in the United States brought the disease to the attention of millions of people. The commonality among all the pet owners who got sick was their ownership of prairie dogs. As it turns out, the prairie dogs had been kept close to some pouched rats imported from West Africa.
The infected prairie dogs transmitted the monkeypox by biting their human owners. The infected people suffered from chills, fevers, and muscle aches. They developed a rash that looked much like smallpox. No treatment specific to monkeypox is available. Smallpox vaccines and antiviral drugs are used to treat the condition. The appearance of the distinctive rash should set off alarm bells.