A new form of mpox that may spread more easily found in Congo’s biggest outbreak – ET HealthWorld

Congo: Congo is struggling to contain its largest-ever Mpox outbreak, and scientists say a new form of the disease found in a mining town could spread more easily between people.

Since January, Congo has recorded more than 4,500 suspected MPOX cases and nearly 300 deaths, according to the World Health Organization, nearly three times the number compared with the same period last year. Congo recently declared the outbreak a nationwide health emergency.

Analysis of patients hospitalized between October and January in Kamituga, eastern Congo, suggests that recent genetic changes in MPOX are the result of its continued transmission among humans; This is happening in a city where people have little contact with the wild animals that are believed to naturally spread the disease.

“We are in a new phase of MPOX,” said Dr. Placide Mbala-Kingbeni, lead researcher on the study, adding that it will soon be submitted to a journal for publication. Mbala-Kingbeni heads a laboratory at Congo’s National Institute of Biomedical Research, which studies the genetics of diseases.

The lesions reported by most patients are mild and on the genitals, making the disease difficult to diagnose, Mbala-Kingbeni said. In previous outbreaks in Africa, lesions were mostly seen on the chest, arms and legs. He also said that the new variant appears to have a lower mortality rate.

In a report this week on the global Mpox situation, WHO said a new testing strategy may be needed to catch mutations in the new variant of the disease.

Noting that experts say less than half of people suffering from mpox in Congo are tested, Mbala-Kingbeni said: “The risk is that unless patients come forward themselves, we will have silent transmission of the disease and no one will know.” will not work.”

Mbalala-Kingbeni said most people were infected through sex, with about a third of cases of mpox found in sex workers. It was not until the global emergency of mpox in 2022 that scientists established that the disease was spread through sex, with most cases occurring in gay or bisexual men. In November, WHO confirmed sexual transmission of mpox in Congo for the first time.

There are two types or groups of smallpox, which is related to smallpox and is endemic in Central and West Africa. Clade 1 is more serious and can kill up to 10 percent of those infected. Clade 2 triggered the 2022 outbreak; More than 99 percent of the infected people survived.

Mbala-Kingbeni and colleagues said they have identified a new form of clade 1 that may be responsible for more than 240 cases and at least three deaths in Kamituga, an area with a significant migratory population in Africa. And travels outside it.

Dr. Boghuma Titanji, an infectious disease expert at Emory University who was not involved with the research, said the new mutations are worrisome.

“This shows that the virus is adapting to spread efficiently between humans and that could lead to some serious consequences resulting outbreak,” He said.

Although the Mpox epidemic was controlled in the West with the help of vaccines and treatments, hardly any are available in Congo. Congo’s health minister has authorized the use of vaccines high risk provincesChris Casita Osako, coordinator of the Congolese monkeypox Feedback Committee. He said officials were in talks with donor countries like Japan for help purchasing the shots.

“Once sufficient quantity of vaccines Available…vaccination will be implemented as part of the response,” Kasita Osako said.

Dr. Dimi Ogoina, MPOX Expert Niger Delta Universitysaid the new research is a disturbing reminder of an earlier — but different — outbreak.

“The remarkable prevalence among sex workers is reminiscent of the early stages of HIV,” he said, explaining that stigmas associated with treatment sexually transmitted infections And the reluctance of people suffering from mpox to come forward was worrying.

WHO’s emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, said last week that despite the ongoing spread of mpox in Africa and elsewhere, “not a single donor dollar has been invested.”

  • Published on May 2, 2024 at 11:06 am IST

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