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Africa CDC urges countries to remain vigilant against monkeypox

Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis belonging to the Poxviridae family, the same viral family that caused smallpox

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | Xinhua | The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has called on African countries to remain vigilant against the spread of the monkeypox virus.

The Africa CDC in a statement issued late Monday warned that the technical and financial resources required to effectively respond to monkeypox in Africa are not yet optimally mobilized.

According to figures from the Africa CDC, since the beginning of 2022, some 1,715 cases and 73 deaths of monkeypox have been reported from eight endemic and two non-endemic African Union (AU) member countries.

The Africa CDC, specialized healthcare agency of the African Union, said the case fatality ratio of monkeypox in Africa this year stands at 4.3 percent.

During the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, from February 2020 to date, the African continent has documented 12,141 cases of monkeypox, with a case fatality ratio of 3 percent, according to the agency.

“Monkeypox remains a public health emergency in affected African countries, and is a high risk pathogen for other neighboring countries,” the Africa CDC said.

It warned that the number of monkeypox cases has continued to rise on the continent.

The Africa CDC said it has continued to monitor the situation of monkeypox on the African continent and globally, while supporting AU member countries in their efforts to strengthen surveillance systems in-country and across borders.

It, however, said the tools required to contain the expanding outbreak, which include diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics “all of which are currently not easily accessible to AU member countries.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) had on Saturday said the latest monkeypox spread in over 50 countries does not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the highest level of alert the WHO can issue.

Meanwhile, the Africa CDC urges countries to establish laboratory diagnostic and genomic sequencing capacity for orthopoxviruses, including monkeypox, as well strengthen existing monkeypox surveillance efforts, including cross-border surveillance.

It further called on countries to develop and distribute both general and tailored risk communication messages for the community at large as well as specific populations currently impacted and at risk.

The agency said its Emergency Operations Centre remains in alert mode and is closely monitoring the situation globally and in Africa.

The Africa CDC further urged AU member countries, partners and friends of Africa to support the monkeypox emergency support efforts across the continent while coordinating closely with the Africa CDC and the AU.

It further called for more tools, including diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, be made available in Africa so as to ensure that the outbreak does not spread further nor grow more severe.

Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis belonging to the Poxviridae family, the same viral family that caused smallpox. Monkeypox can be transmitted via direct contact with infected body fluids or lesion material from humans or animals, or indirect contact with contaminated material, according to the agency.

The first human case of monkeypox was reported in 1970 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The virus is thought to be maintained primarily in wild rodent populations.

Human-to-human transmission is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets. Symptoms typically include fever, headache, malaise, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes, followed a few days later by a rash.

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Xinhua

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