ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Africa Center for Disease Control (Africa CDC) warned monkeypox cases are increasing across the African continent.
Ahmed Ogwell, acting director of Africa CDC, while addressing journalists in his period briefing on Thursday, said since the beginning of 2022 eight African countries have detected monkeypox cases within their borders.
“Monkeypox is spreading in the continent and we are seeing the continent numbers are increasing and we are also seeing the number of countries with suspected cases have also been increasing over time,” Ogwell said.
“Since the beginning of 2022, we have documented 1,642 new cases, 1,571 being suspected and 71 of them being confirmed,” Ogwell said.
The Africa CDC chief also said a total of 73 deaths have been documented with a case fatality rate of 4.4 percent in Africa as a result of monkeypox virus.
The Africa CDC has detected monkeypox cases in eight African countries since the beginning of the year with Democratic Republic of the Congo having the largest single number with 1,346 suspected cases and 10 confirmed cases.
The Africa CDC chief said his organization is helping with capacity building of laboratories and medical staff in African countries, as part of the fight against the disease.
Ogwell also called on African member states to have good surveillance mechanisms in place.
“We would also like stockpiled vaccines to be released to African countries that have high numbers of monkeypox cases, so that we are able to vaccinate frontline workers and those within affected communities,” Ogwell further said.
Since the global eradication of smallpox in 1979, monkeypox has emerged as the most prevalent orthopoxvirus infection in humans.
Vaccination against smallpox has been shown to be protective against monkeypox. A new vaccine against smallpox and monkeypox has been approved but is not yet widely available.
Monkeypox is common in wild animals like primates and rodents, but humans can also get infected. Symptoms include skin rashes, fever, headache, muscle ache, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion.
The rash eventually forms a scab, which later falls off, indicating that the person is no longer infectious.