Monkey pox is a rare viral infection that was first discovered in 1958 in laboratory monkeys in Europe. It wasn’t until 1970, however, that the virus was identified in humans in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as Zaire).
Outbreaks of monkey pox have been subsequently documented in several different African countries, including Gabon, Nigeria, the Central African Republic and the Republic of the Congo. The virus is believed to have originated in animals, likely small mammals such as rodents or squirrels. Humans usually catch the infection from animals through close contact, although person-to-person transmission has also been reported.