Title: Monkeypox Outbreak in Congo Reveals First Confirmed Sexual Transmission, WHO Warns of Potential Global Spread
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently confirmed the first-ever case of sexual transmission of monkeypox in Congo, as the country grapples with its largest outbreak of the disease to date. This groundbreaking discovery challenges the long-held belief that this form of transmission was not occurring in Africa.
Reports indicate that a Belgian resident, who engaged in sexual relations with other men, traveled to Congo in March and subsequently tested positive for monkeypox. Shockingly, five of his sexual contacts also tested positive for the disease, providing definitive proof of sexual transmission of monkeypox in Africa.
Traditionally, monkeypox has primarily spread to humans from infected rodents in parts of central and west Africa, resulting in limited outbreaks. However, it is worth mentioning that last year, Europe witnessed epidemics triggered by sexual activities among gay and bisexual men, affecting over 100 countries.
WHO has flagged the existence of “discrete” clubs in Congo where men have sex with other men, emphasizing the potential for widespread transmission within sexual networks. This development poses a concerning risk to public health.
The ongoing monkeypox outbreak in Congo has already infected more than 12,500 people and claimed nearly 580 lives. Experts, however, believe these figures may be an underestimate, and warn that the disease could be spreading in other parts of Africa, concealed due to anti-LGBTQ+ laws and fear of persecution.
Renowned virologist Oyewale Tomori stressed the urgency for mass immunization campaigns across Africa and called for the disease to be taken more seriously on the continent. Tomori also expressed concerns that monkeypox could spread to other African nations and potentially worldwide, with potentially more severe consequences compared to the global epidemic witnessed last year.
Disturbingly, despite the thousands of reported cases in Congo, there have been no official vaccines or treatments made available for Africa, showcasing a stark disparity between the response in the West and Africa.
As WHO continues to address the evolving crisis, it is imperative that international efforts focus on enhancing healthcare infrastructure, promoting awareness, and supporting mass immunization campaigns throughout Africa to mitigate the spread of monkeypox and prevent further devastation.
The revelation of sexual transmission significantly alters the understanding of monkeypox dynamics and underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive and coordinated global response to combat this growing global health threat.
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