Monkeypox: role of your lymphatic system in the immune response

It is possible that you have heard a lot about Monkeypox, but don´t worry, it does not spread easily between people, according to the latest research. Only a small number of people have been diagnosed with monkeypox in the UK. In this blog you can find some basic (and key) information about Monkeypox and the role of your lymphatic system when a virus, infection or illness attacks your body. So, why don’t we start?…

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare infection caused by the Monkeypox virus. It produces similar symptoms to those seen in smallpox patients in the past. However, Monkeypox symptoms are less severe.

How do humans get Monkeypox?

  • In 1958, Monkeypox was discovered in Africa when outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in monkeys kept for research. At that time, the infection was only seen in apes and wild animals.
  • Then, in 1970, the first human case was seen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It was transmitted from an infected animal to a person (it is called viral zoonosis).
  •  After that, the infection started to be transmitted from infected person-to-person or infected animal-to-person.  Most cases were reported in western and central Africa.
  • However, in 2003, it started to spread around the world, but with a pretty small number of cases. In the last months more  Monkeypox cases have been detected outside of Africa and health organizations are concerned about  the rapid increase in cases worldwide.  

How can I get the infection?

Experts say that you can get monkeypox from animals due to the following reasons:

  • It is spread by rodents: rats, squirrels and mice.
  • If you’re bitten by an infected animal.
  • By touching its blood, body fluids, spots, blisters, scabs, skin and fur.
  • Eating poorly cooked meat from an infected animal.

From person-to-person, it is spread when: 

  • Touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash.
  • The coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash.
  • Direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions or scabs.

What are the symptoms of Monkeypox?

First period

The incubation period (before first symptoms) is usually 7−14 days, but can range from 5−21 days.

  • High temperature
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Back pain
  • Shivering (chills)
  • Exhaustion
  • Swollen lymph nodes
Second period

Lesions progress through the following stages before falling off:

  • Macules. It is a flat, distinct, discolored area of skin (less than 1cm wide). 
  • Papules. Raised area of skin tissue ( less than 1 cm around). 
  • Vesicles. Small fluid-filled sacs.
  • Pustules. Bulging patch of skin that’s full of a yellowish fluid (pus).
  • Scabs. Patches of dry, tough skin that form over a wound during the process of healing.

Monkeypox typically lasts for 2−4 weeks. In Africa the death rate is 1 in 10, but there is little risk of people in the UK being infected.

Why is the lymphatic system so important?

The lymphatic system is a part of your immune system. It is responsible for helping fluid, toxins and wastes leave the body. The lymphatic system is made of a network of lymph vessels and nodes. 

 The main role of the lymphatic system is to carry ant-bodies to the main lymph nodes. Lymph vessels carry a clear watery fluid called Lymph. This fluid also contains white blood cells, which help fight infections and protect your body from diseases.  

The role of lymph nodes

Lymph nodes are small round shape structures that work as filters for foreign agents that can harm you, such as cancer cells, viruses, bacteria and infections. They contain immune cells that help fight infection by isolating, attacking and destroying “bad agents” that are carried in through the lymph fluid. Lymph nodes are located throughout your body, some of the most known are:

  • Axillary lymph nodes (armpits)
  • Cervical lymph nodes (neck)
  • Inguinal lymph nodes (groin)
  • Mediastinal lymph nodes (in the chest cavity)
  • Pelvic lymph nodes (in the pelvis)
  • Retroperitoneal lymph nodes (back of the abdomen)
  • Lymph nodes in elbows

And there are more; some lymph nodes are deep inside the body, such as between the lungs or around the bowel, to filter fluid in those areas.

Why do lymph nodes get swollen?

Swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) tell you that something is not right (your body is fighting against something), but other symptoms help pinpoint the problem. For example: ear pain, fever, and enlarged lymph nodes near your ear are clues that you may have an ear infection, cold, Monkeypox, etc.

When more than one area of lymph nodes is swollen, it’s called generalized lymphadenopathy. Some infections can cause it, such as strep throat and chickenpox and Monkeypox.

How does the lymphatic system work?

Unlike the heart, the Lymphatic System doesn’t have a pump to push it round the body. It relies on muscular action and body movement to keep the fluid moving.  To work efficiently, it also requires all areas of the body to be in good condition; that means adequate fluid intake, excellent nutrition, exercise and Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD). However, in case of obstruction or poor lymphatic flow, it is important to help your body with manual techniques like MLD.

How can I avoid getting Monkeypox?

Here, some tips to keep you out of this virus:

  • Regular hand wash with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Only consume meat that is well-cooked.
  • Avoid traveling to west or central Africa.
  • Don’t be close to infected animals or people.

We hope this information is useful for you. If you need advice or have any questions about our treatments, please contact us. You can find us in Mill Hill Broadway and Islington. We are always happy to help. If you like this blog, please share!


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