Can you be asymptomatic with monkeypox? Experts answer

Yes! Asymptomatic cases with monkeypox are a reality.

These patients can have atypical presentation as no rash and no prodromal symptoms. These patients can be asymptomatic during the incubation period which is 5-21 days, explains Dr Monalisa Sahu, Consultant Infectious Diseases, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad and adds that they can on very rare occasions have minor symptoms which may not be evident and go unnoticed, and finally land up in complications like encephalitis; this draws our attention towards the fact that asymptomatic cases have equal potential as symptomatic cases in spreading the disease.

However due to the fact that they do not exhibit the symptoms it is difficult to ascertain their presence and consequently is difficult to figure out the nature of transmission caused by them.

If you have good immunity and the amount of virus entering your body is less you might not show symptoms but that does not mean you can not spread the infection, says Dr. Mahesh Kumar, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Narayana Health City and adds that any person who has had a few minutes of exposure to the virus can be asymptomatic and are a big threat to the community.

Several research studies have also shed light on the asymptomatic monkeypox cases. A recent study found that three men tested positive for monkeypox without showing any symptoms. “All three men denied having had any symptoms in the weeks before and after the sample was taken. None of them reported exposure to a diagnosed monkeypox case, nor did any of their contacts develop clinical monkeypox,” the study says.

The nature of asymptomatic cases and the severity to which they can spread the infection is still unknown. The WHO in its latest update on monkeypox says, the extent to which asymptomatic infection may occur is unknown.