Title: World Health Organization Confirms Sexual Transmission of Monkeypox in Congo
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently confirmed the occurrence of sexual transmission of monkeypox (mpox) for the first time in Congo during the country’s largest-ever outbreak. The confirmation came after a resident of Belgium tested positive for mpox shortly following their visit to Congo in March.
The infected individual identified himself as a man who has sexual relations with other men and mentioned visiting underground clubs specifically designed for gay and bisexual men. It was later discovered that five of his sexual contacts also tested positive for mpox, unequivocally confirming sexual transmission of the disease.
Monkeypox has long been endemic in parts of central and west Africa, where it is primarily transmitted from infected rodents to humans. However, last year, an alarming surge in mpox cases caused by sexual encounters among gay and bisexual men in over 100 countries in Europe prompted the WHO to declare a global emergency.
The recent outbreak in Congo has devastated the nation, with over 12,500 people infected and approximately 580 deaths reported thus far, making it the largest outbreak in the country’s history. Virologist Oyewale Tomori expressed concerns that these figures likely underestimate the true extent of the disease in Africa due to surveillance gaps and the concealment of cases driven by anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
WHO has also highlighted the presence of discreet clubs in Congo where men engage in sexual activities with other men, significantly heightening the risk of the disease spreading within sexual networks. Furthermore, the organization warns of the potential for mpox to spread to other African countries and globally, potentially leading to more severe consequences than the previous worldwide epidemic.
Interestingly, Tomori noted that while mass immunization campaigns were promptly implemented in Europe and North America during mpox outbreaks, no such plans were proposed for Africa despite the thousands of cases in Congo. Tomori stressed the urgency of taking mpox more seriously in Africa, especially now that sexual transmission has been confirmed in the region.
Common symptoms of mpox include fever, chills, rash, and lesions; however, most individuals recover without the need for hospitalization. Nonetheless, the WHO urges heightened vigilance and proper precautions to prevent the disease from spreading further.
As the outbreak continues to wreak havoc in Congo, it is imperative that authorities address the surveillance gaps and ensure that comprehensive measures are put in place to control the transmission of the disease.
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