Monkeypox spreading across Africa

APA - Brazzaville (Congo)

Since the beginning of the year until mid-May, the World Health Organization (WHO) says it has recorded nearly 1,400 cases, including 1,392 suspected and 44 confirmed cases.

The cases were reported in Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, WHO informs, adding that the number of cases reported in 2022 is slightly less than half of those recorded in 2021.

“We must avoid having two different responses to monkeypox - one for Western countries that do not have significant transmissions and another for Africa,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, calling for collaboration and joint actions at the global level taking into account Africa’s experience, expertise and needs.

“This is the only way to strengthen surveillance and better understand the evolution of the disease, while generalizing preparedness and response to contain any spread,” she said in the note sent to APA on Wednesday.

Monkey pox was first detected in humans in 1970 in Africa and since then, most cases have been reported in rural areas and tropical forests. For decades, only a few cases were reported sporadically. Then, in 2017, there was a sudden spike, with more than 2,800 cases reported in five countries. This outbreak continued, peaking in 2020 with more than 6,300 cases.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo accounted for 95 percent of the total number of reported cases. The numbers then dropped last year to about 3,200 cases. The reasons for these spikes are not fully known, but they may be due to deforestation and encroachment of people on the habitats of monkey pox host animals.

In the face of this new spread, “it is critical that the continent has equal access to effective monkeypox vaccines and that we ensure that doses reach all communities in need globally. While parts of the continent have been able to develop some immunity to the disease, certain populations are particularly vulnerable, such as health workers and contacts of cases,” Dr. Moeti said.

According to the World Health Organization, since the global eradication of the disease in 1979, monkeypox has become the most common orthopoxvirus infection in humans. Vaccination has been shown to be protective and a new vaccine has been approved but is not yet widely available.

Monkeypox is a viral disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans, but also from person to person, through close contact with an infected person and/or objects, including clothing and bedding, and respiratory droplets.

Symptoms, which last two to four weeks, usually include a rash or lesions, fever, severe headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy and swollen lymph nodes. In many patients, the symptoms resolve on their own, but severe cases and even death can occur.

The case fatality rate, the percentage of people who die compared to those diagnosed, is about 3-6 percent.


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