Distinguishing Monkeypox (Mpox) and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV): A Comparative Analysis

Cover Image for Distinguishing Monkeypox (Mpox) and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV): A Comparative Analysis
Posted underSexual Health

In the realm of infectious diseases, mpox and herpes simplex virus (HSV) are two conditions that have recently garnered attention. They are both viral infections, but  differ significantly in their origins, symptoms, and course of infection. This article aims to delineate these differences, and, where possible, provide insights into how one might distinguish between the two.

Mpox, previously called monkeypox, is a disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. While prevalence has been on the rise in recent months, it is still considered a rare disease. The monkeypox  virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox

In contrast, HSV is a highly prevalent viral infection, mainly categorized into two types – HSV-1 (oral herpes) and HSV-2 (genital herpes). As the names suggest, HSV1 typically causes sores in or around the mouth, and HSV2 causes sores around the genital area. However, both HSV types can cause oral or genital herpes.

Now, how can these two distinct viruses be differentiated?

Symptoms: Mpox often starts with fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. A rash then develops, often beginning on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body. The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming scabs, which later fall off.

HSV, on the other hand, is characterized by recurrent episodes of painful, fluid-filled blisters which become sores, on or around the mouth or genital area. However, many people with HSV have no noticeable symptoms.

Progression: Mpox symptoms typically last for 2-4 weeks. HSV symptoms (if they occur) also tend to last 2-4 weeks during the first outbreak, and for fewer days during subsequent outbreaks. HSV outbreaks can be triggered by factors like stress, fatigue, or exposure to sunlight. Unlike mpox, HSV is a lifelong infection, although treatment can help reduce severity and sometimes prevent outbreaks. 

Severity: While both infections can cause discomfort, mpox is generally more severe, potentially causing serious complications, especially in individuals with weakened immune systems. HSV, although chronic, is typically less severe, and serious complications are rare.

Diagnosis: Both mpox and HSV require a diagnostic test in order to form a definitive diagnosis. If you suspect you may have HSV, a discreet at-home test from Cue can confirm the presence of the virus. Cue is also an industry leader in mpox tests, with the  highly accurate Cue Mpox (Monkeypox) Molecular Test for professional use at the point of care.

It’s worth noting that while the above differences can provide a general guide, only a healthcare professional can accurately diagnose these conditions. If you have concerns about potential symptoms, it’s crucial to consult with a medical expert promptly.

When it comes to HSV, Cue can provide much-needed support. Whether it’s at-home testing, access to antiviral medication, or consultation with a clinician, managing HSV can be efficient and discrete.

In conclusion, while mpox and HSV are both viral infections, their symptoms, progression, and severity markedly differ. Understanding these differences helps in recognizing potential symptoms and seeking timely medical intervention.

Knowledge empowers, especially when navigating the landscape of infectious diseases. Continue to stay informed and take control of your health, because you are more than a diagnosis. Until next time, stay healthy and safe.

This information is presented in summary form, general in nature, and for informational purposes only. Content is not intended nor recommended to substitute for professional medical advice. For personal medical advice, always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. The tests offered are subject to change and subject to availability. Due to state restrictions, this Cue Product is not available for individuals located in the state of New York. Other state restrictions may apply for specific tests. Please refer to our support page for detailed product terms and conditions.

The Cue Mpox (Monkeypox) Molecular Test has not been FDA cleared or approved, but has been authorized for emergency use by FDA under an EUA. This product has been authorized only for the detection of nucleic acid from monkeypox virus, not for any other viruses or pathogens. The emergency use of this product is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection and/or diagnosis of infection with the monkeypox virus, including in vitro diagnostics that detect and/or diagnose infection with non-variola Orthopoxvirus, under Section 564(b)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb3(b)(1), unless the declaration is terminated or authorization is revoked sooner.


  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/monkeypox
  2. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/herpes-simplex-virus
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/smallpox/index.html
  4. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/herpes-hsv1-and-hsv2/oral-herpes
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/genital-herpes/symptoms-causes/syc-20356161
  6. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/monkeypox

TaggedHSV-1HSV-2MpoxSexual Health

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