The World Health Organisation has reported a record-breaking number of monkeypox cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this year. From January 1 to November 12, there have been 12,569 cases and 581 deaths, marking the highest annual figures ever recorded. Monkeypox, an infectious disease first identified in humans in 1970 in the DRC, has been endemic in various West and Central African countries.
The virus is typically transmitted to humans from infected animals, triggering outbreaks. In the DRC, 22 out of 26 provinces have reported infections, including previously unaffected areas like Kinshasa, Lualaba, and South Kivu.
The WHO expressed concerns about the transmissibility of a variant and is collaborating with the Congolese health ministry to assess the situation. Last year, the WHO declared a public health emergency of international concern due to a spike in monkeypox cases outside the endemic regions. Although the alert ended in May this year, populations are advised to remain vigilant. The disease primarily affects men who have sex with men and those who have had recent s8xual encounters with multiple partners. Additionally, monkeypox can spread through contaminated objects.
Symptoms begin with fever, headaches, and muscle and back pain, followed by the appearance of rashes, lesions, spots, and scabs.
The disease usually resolves within two to four weeks, but it can be severe for children, pregnant women, and individuals with compromised immune systems. Globally, from January 2022 to October 31, 2023, a total of 91,788 cases and 167 deaths have been reported across 116 countries and territories.