Title: Monkeypox Outbreak in DRC: First Confirmed Case of Sexual Transmission Raises Concerns
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the occurrence of sexual transmission of monkeypox in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the first time. This confirmation comes amid the country’s largest-ever monkeypox outbreak, prompting concerns among African scientists about the difficulty of halting the disease.
In March, a resident of Belgium who had traveled to the DRC tested positive for monkeypox. The individual identified himself as a man who engages in sexual relations with other men and had visited underground clubs catering to gay and bisexual men. Shockingly, among his sexual contacts, five individuals later tested positive for monkeypox, providing conclusive evidence of sexual transmission within Africa.
Monkeypox has historically been prevalent in parts of Central and West Africa, mainly transmitted to humans through contact with infected rodents. However, last year saw a surge in epidemics among gay and bisexual men in Europe, spreading to over 100 countries.
Worryingly, the WHO has identified the presence of numerous “discrete” clubs in the DRC where men have sex with other men, creating a significant risk of widespread transmission within sexual networks. The current monkeypox outbreak has infected over 12,500 people in the DRC, resulting in approximately 580 deaths. This outbreak has reached the capital of Kinshasa and the conflict-ridden province of South Kivu for the first time.
Renowned Nigerian virologist Oyewale Tomori warns that the reported figures are likely underestimated. He suggests that similar transmission is likely occurring in other African regions, with communities remaining silent due to restrictive laws against LGBTQ+ individuals in several countries.
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, chills, rash, and lesions on the face or genitals. Fortunately, most people recover within a few weeks without requiring hospitalization. However, WHO emphasizes that the risk of monkeypox spreading to other African countries and globally remains significant, potentially resulting in severe consequences similar to the worldwide epidemic witnessed last year.
Unfortunately, despite the thousands of cases in the DRC, no vaccines have been provided. This has raised concerns and prompted calls for greater attention and action to address the monkeypox issue throughout Africa.
In conclusion, the recent confirmation of sexual transmission of monkeypox within the DRC intensifies concerns surrounding the ongoing outbreak. African scientists are now urging authorities to focus their efforts on preventing the further spread of this infectious disease, which poses significant risks both within Africa and globally.