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The World Health Organization has confirmed the first instance of sexual transmission of Mpox during the current record outbreak in Congo.
Africa Science & Health

The World Health Organization has confirmed the first instance of sexual transmission of Mpox during the current record outbreak in Congo.

The World Health Organization has announced the first confirmed case of sexual transmission of mpox in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as the country grapples with its largest outbreak. This is a concerning development, as African scientists caution that it could complicate efforts to contain the disease.

On Thursday evening, the United Nations’ health organization reported that a person from Belgium visited Congo in March and was found to have mpox (also known as monkeypox) shortly afterwards. The WHO stated that the person identified as a male who engages in sexual activity with other males and had visited several secretive clubs for gay and bisexual individuals.

The World Health Organization stated that out of his sexual partners, five were later diagnosed with mpox.

According to Oyewale Tomori, a Nigerian virologist involved in multiple WHO advisory groups, this is the initial conclusive evidence of monkeypox being transmitted through sexual contact in Africa. The belief that this type of transmission was not occurring has been disproven.

For many years, Mpox has been present in certain areas of central and west Africa. It primarily spread to humans through infected rodents and led to small-scale outbreaks. However, in the past year, epidemics have occurred in over 100 countries due to sexual activity among gay and bisexual men in Europe. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared this outbreak a global emergency, and it has resulted in approximately 91,000 cases so far.

The World Health Organization reported that there are numerous exclusive groups in Congo where men engage in sexual activities with other men. Some of these members also travel to other regions in Africa and Europe. The organization characterized the recent outbreak of mpox as uncommon and emphasized the potential for the disease to spread within sexual networks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that the current mpox outbreak in Congo has affected over 12,500 individuals and caused approximately 580 deaths. This year’s outbreak is notable as it is the first time the disease has been reported in the capital city of Kinshasa and in the tumultuous province of South Kivu. The WHO reported that these numbers are about twice as high as the mpox cases in 2020, making it Congo’s largest outbreak.

Tomori, a virologist, stated that the mentioned numbers are probably lower than the actual number and could have consequences for other parts of Africa, considering the inconsistent disease monitoring on the continent.

According to him, the situation in Congo may also be occurring in other regions of Africa. The spread of monkeypox through sexual contact is probably present here, but the LGBTQ+ communities are concealing it due to the strict laws against their rights in multiple countries.

He cautioned against hiding individuals at risk of the virus as it would make controlling the disease more difficult.

The mpox virus results in symptoms such as fever, chills, skin rash, and sores on the face or genitals. Fortunately, most individuals fully recover within a few weeks without needing to be hospitalized.

The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that there is a significant risk of mpox spreading to other countries in Africa and around the world. They also warned that the potential consequences could be more severe than the global epidemic experienced last year.

Tomori expressed disappointment that despite the presence of mpox outbreaks in Europe and North America, there were no plans in place for mass immunization campaigns in Africa.

According to him, there have been numerous cases in Congo, but no vaccines have been delivered. Despite the decline of smallpox outbreaks in the Western world, only a limited number of vaccinations or therapies have been provided to Africa.

For many years in Africa, it has been acknowledged that monkeypox presents a significant issue,” he stated. “With the recent confirmation of sexual transmission in this region, it should serve as a warning for everyone to treat it with greater importance.”