Like the “classic” monkeypox, the new strain is spread through sexual contact.
The last time we reported on the disease formerly known as monkeypox, before its woke rebranding as Mpox, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was monitoring for a potential surge in the summer of 2023.
Between the use of vaccine appropriate for the monkeypox virus, and an infection control campaign targeting the at risk population (homosexual men), the surge did not occur.
However, the CDC is now warning of a more infectious strain.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that a more infectious mpox virus strain has been found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The CDC said the new strain, Clade I MPXV, has not been detected in the United States, but clinicians should be aware of the strain for people who have traveled to Congo.
The agency issued a travel health notice to people traveling to the DRC and said that people who recently traveled there should seek medical care if they develop a “new, unexplained skin rash,” or lesions, with or without fever and chills.
Like the “classic” monkeypox, the new strain is also spread through sexual contact.
Testing in the DRC has shown for the first time that Clade I mpox is being spread via sexual contact — the same way mpox spread last year.
Patients are suffering from flu-like symptoms, pus-filled skin lesions and more severe rashes, doctors say.
A case was also detected in a Belgian man last month who had recently traveled to the DRC.
The individual was described as someone who ‘has sexual relations with other men’ and who confirmed visiting undergound clubs for gay and bisexual men in the country.
There are no direct flights between Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC, and the US — although it is possible to reach the country via Paris or Brussels.
The numbers coming from the DRC are troubling, especially if Clade I is more infectious.
There have been 12,569 suspected mpox cases reported in the DRC this year so far, according to the CDC. It is the nation’s largest-ever outbreak and the figure is a marked increase from the median of 3,767 suspected cases a year during 2016 to 2021.
While genetic testing is not conducted on all suspected mpox cases—hence “suspected cases,” which is based on clinical presentation—cases where testing has been conducted has “confirmed” the clade I, the CDC said. Estimates suggest there have been nearly 600 mpox deaths in the DRC this year, roughly 5% of the suspected cases.
The virus has also been detected in more regions of the country than it has before, found to be transmitting in new ways and also spreading in previously spared urban areas like Kinshasa, the WHO reported. It concluded that the outbreak serves to “clearly illustrate the epidemiology of mpox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is changing.”
The infection fatality rate for Clade I is also reported to be higher.
Now authorities have confirmed sexual spread of clade 1 in Congo in at least two dozen cases; clade 1 has a higher fatality rate than the version that spread internationally last year. A cluster of several cases in people who had sex with an mpox patient has caught attention, as has an unconnected case involving a man who has sex with other men and an outbreak that includes 20 sex workers in an eastern province of Congo that had never reported mpox before.
The discoveries are concerning because sex has proved to be a far more efficient way for the virus to spread than other forms of skin-to-skin contact, animal bites and scratches, or consuming contaminated bushmeat. Nonsexual spread had accounted for most transmissions in parts of Africa where the virus has circulated for decades.
“Pride Month” begins again in six months, with its associated “parades.” We will see then if the public health professionals do anything meaningful in disease prevention, or if they are too afraid of offending and naming things as they should be named in accordance with science, reality, and common sense.DONATE
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