While the current monkeypox outbreak will be the first time many have heard of the disease, the virus is thought to have been infecting people for centuries, possibly even millennia. A member of the same virus family as chickenpox and smallpox, monkeypox’s first documented cases were back in 1958, when there were two outbreaks in colonies of lab monkeys being kept for research—hence the name.
This, though, is a bit of a misnomer. The virus is usually carried by rodents such as squirrels, pouched rats, and dormice, among others. Cases tend to occur near tropical rainforests in Central and West Africa, where
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