According to health officials in the DRC, at least 2585 suspected cases of monkeypox, including 42 deaths, were reported nationwide from January 1 to late-September. Cases have been reported in 14 provinces, with Sankuru province in central DRC experiencing the highest concentration of infections. Officials have deployed medical teams to the affected areas to hinder further spread of the disease.
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 initial five-day period, symptoms include fever, intense headache, lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph node), back pain, myalgia (muscle aches), and an intense fatigue. 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 the DRC should avoid contact with both domestic and wild animals and follow any instructions provided by health authorities.