Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a smallpox disease occurred in colonies of monkeys bred for research, hence the name “monkeypox”. The name monkeypox comes from the first documented case of infection. The disease was similar to smallpox, so the virus was called monkeypox. Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to a subgroup of the Poxviridae virus family called Orthopoxvirus.
This subgroup includes smallpox, vaccine, and bovine smallpox viruses. Although an animal reservoir for monkeypox virus is unknown, African rodents are suspected to be involved in transmission. Monkeypox virus has only been isolated twice from an animal in nature. Diagnostic tests for monkeypox are currently only available in Laboratory Response Network laboratories in the United States.
Scientists came up with the name monkeypox in 1958 after it was first detected in laboratory monkeys. The first human case of monkeypox occurred in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during a period of intensified efforts to eliminate smallpox. Since then, monkeypox has been reported in humans from other countries in Central and West Africa.