Monkeypox virus

Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae. The Orthopoxvirus genus also includes variola virus, vaccinia virus and cowpox virus.

The virus was first discovered as a pox-like disease in monkeys kept in Denmark.  Rodents in/from various African countries are reported to harbor the virus as well.

Monkeypox is reported in humans since 1970.  Until the recent outbreak, the disease was only seen on the European continent among travelers from Central and West Arica.

Diagnostic information

TIB MolBiol provides Primer/Probe/Control sets. TIB MolBiol provides three different assays, Orthopox-Assay, Monkeypox and Point-mutation assays for differentiation between Monkeypox-Westafrica vs Monkeypox-Centralafrica. For the TIB-Molbiol assays you need additional reagents, ROCHE DNA Master is recommended in the manual.

Altona has an Orthopox assay. It is called Altona RealStar® Orthopoxvirus PCR Kit 1.0*.


RKI/ Andreas Nitsche, Konsiliarlabor Pockenviren in Berlin functions as reference center.

Like other laboratories in Germany the institute of Virology of the University of Cologne uses a monkey pox specific assay. They perform additional typing by a point mutation assay to distinguish between Central African and west African variant. 

Virologist Rolf Kaiser explains that for centers who would like to set up diagnostics, could start with the orthopox assay, since all pox cases observed in Europe so far are the monkeypox- westafrica variant that is detected by these assays. In case of a positive result one can contact a reference center for typing.  


ErasmusMC and the RIVM  function as reference center for Monkeypox diagnostics in the Netherlands.

The department of Viroscience of the ErasmusMC is a WHO collaborating center for poxviruses and provides the following services:

·         Orthopox-specific real-time PCR (followed by amplicon sequencing for species determination).

·         Monkeypox-specific real-time PCR.

·         Clade-specific-monkeypox real-time PCR.

·         Full genome sequencing (for samples with high viral loads) and phylogenetic analyses.

·         Monkeypox virus isolation by cell culture.

·         Monkeypox serology.

·         Parapox-specific real-time PCR (followed by amplicon sequencing for species determination).

·         Consultations and support.