The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a health warning after a more severe and contagious variant of the Monkeypox virus, known as MPOX, was reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Mpox is a rare virus infection causing fever, chills, and rash. While there is no cure, in most cases the infection resolves on its own. However, some people may experience complications such as pneumonia and life-threatening brain or eye infections.
The class I Monkeypox virus (MPXV) variant of Mpox, with a 10% mortality rate, is currently spreading in the DRC. However, cases related to this Mpox virus subtype have not been reported in the United States. Nevertheless, the CDC has alerted health experts to the possibility of this illness in travelers who have been in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The agency has issued a Level 2 travel health notice as the outbreak has been confirmed in 22 out of 26 provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
„During this outbreak, there has been human-to-human transmission including through sexual contact, household contact, and healthcare settings,“ the agency said.
Meanwhile, health authorities in Rhode Island and Nashville, Tennessee reported an increase in Mpox cases.
„With new Mpox cases reported in Rhode Island for the first time in several months, it is important for at-risk individuals to be aware of the symptoms and to get vaccinated against Mpox or complete their vaccination series,“ said Rhode Island’s health department on Twitter.
„Our community has seen an increase in Mpox cases recently, and we are taking actions to protect you. Mpox spreads through close contact, often through sexual contact. Come by tomorrow to get your MPOX vaccine,“ said representatives from Nashville Health on X.
Last year, Mpox outbreaks were reported in 110 countries, including the USA, and were associated with the Clade-IIb variant which has a mortality rate of less than 1%. The infection predominantly affected, but was not limited to, gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men, spreading through sexual networks from person to person.
Recognizing the Signs of MPOX Infection
- Fever and chills
- Rash – appearing within four days of the fever, beginning on the face and hands and slowly spreading to other parts of the body
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Headaches, muscle aches, and back pain
Symptoms typically appear three days to two weeks after exposure to the virus.
The Mpox virus is transmitted through direct contact with rashes, scabs, or bodily fluids from an infected person, as well as prolonged close contact with their droplets and through sexual contact. It can also spread through shared materials such as sheets and blankets that have come into contact with an infected person’s rashes or bodily fluids. Infection can also be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her fetus.
It can be transmitted to humans through animal bites or scratches, as well as contact with infected animals‘ bodily fluids and rashes. It can also be spread by consuming infected bushmeat or using hides or fur from an infected animal.
The first step in prevention is vaccination. However, the CDC does not recommend routine vaccination against Mpox for the general public.
Individuals at high risk of Mpox infection are recommended to receive two doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine, four weeks apart. This vaccine is given for post-exposure prophylaxis or to individuals with specific risk factors and behaviors that may make them more susceptible to exposure.
If a person is at high risk and has not been vaccinated, minimizing skin contact and temporarily altering some aspects of their sexual activity can help reduce the risk of infection. Maintaining hand hygiene and avoiding contact with materials or objects used by a person with MPOX is also important.