The Ministry of Health has issued an official declaration for an outbreak of monkeypox after eight cases were confirmed in Ippy, Bambari district (Ouaka prefecture), on March 17. A number of patients showing symptoms are also reportedly being treated in Bria (Haute-Kotto prefecture). This latest outbreak has been ongoing since March 2.
The ministry has deployed a support team to the affected regions and is currently coordinating with humanitarian partners to put in place surveillance, awareness-training, and measures for isolated treatment in an attempt to contain the outbreak.
Sporadic outbreaks of monkeypox have occurred across the country in recent years. The last outbreak of monkeypox was declared in eastern CAR by authorities in September 2017, with more than 20 cases and ten fatalities in Alindao, Mingala, Basse-Kotto, and Haute-Kotto prefectures.
Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by a virus. Infection results from direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids, or rashes of infected animals (e.g. monkeys, Gambian rats, or squirrels). Secondary transmission is human-to-human, resulting from close contact with infected respiratory tract excretions, with the skin lesions of an infected person, or with recently contaminated objects. The infection can be divided into two periods: the invasion period symptoms of which include fever, intense headache, lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph node), back pain, myalgia (muscle aches), and an intense asthenia (lack of energy). In the second phase symptoms include a rash on the face (in 95 percent of cases) as well as on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet (75 percent of cases) and elsewhere on the body. There is no vaccine or treatment against the disease, although the smallpox vaccination has proven to be 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox.
Individuals present in CAR should avoid contact with both domestic and wild animals and follow any instructions provided by health authorities.
On a more general note, due to precarious security conditions, most Western governments advise against nonessential travel to Bangui and against all travel to the rest of the country (particularly the northern provinces of Mambéré-Kadéï and Ombella-Mpoko).
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