Health officials in Bas-Uele District, Orientale Province of northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are reporting a monkeypox outbreak, which has affected more than 50 and killed two, according to a Radio Okapi report today (computer translated).


Dr Innocent Akonda said that 51 cases were reported during the first week of February, with cases reported in the Bombongolo health area, Aboso and other health areas. With the new cases, the health zone recorded 195 cases including 8 deaths, said Akonda.

The battle against the outbreak is especially problematic due to lack of qualified medical personnel, equipment, collection kits and lack of sanitation. “We only have one qualified nurse in Bombongolo. When he moves, it is the waiters who care for the sick. Healers also monopolize the sick to offer them miracles-healings, “added Dr Innocent Akonda.

Monkeypox is a relatively rare virus found primarily in central and western Africa. The disease is caused by Monkeypox virus. It is closely related to the smallpox virus (variola), the virus used in the smallpox vaccine (vaccinia), and the cowpox virus.

Infection with monkeypox is not as serious as its cousin, smallpox; however, human deaths have been attributed to monkeypox.

According to the CDC, the symptoms of monkeypox are as follows: About 12 days after people are infected with the virus, they will get a fever, headache, muscle aches, and backache; their lymph nodes will swell; and they will feel tired. One to 3 days (or longer) after the fever starts, they will get a rash. This rash develops into raised bumps filled with fluid and often starts on the face and spreads, but it can start on other parts of the body too. The bumps go through several stages before they get crusty, scab over, and fall off. The illness usually lasts for 2 to 4 weeks.

DRC map
Democratic Republic of the Congo/CIA

Rodents, such as rope squirrels, door mice and pouched rats, are the suspected reservoir hosts, with monkeys and humans as secondary, spill-over hosts. The monkeypox virus in the Congo has a higher case fatality rate than the virus in West Africa, where fatal cases are rare or absent, according to a ProMed moderator.

People at risk for monkeypox are those who get bitten by an infected animal or if you have contact with the animal’s rash, blood or body fluids. It can also be transmitted person to person through respiratory or direct contact and contact with contaminated bedding or clothing.

There is no specific treatment for monkeypox.

A 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that  since the last doses of smallpox vaccine were given in 1980 and smallpox was officially eradicated, cases of monkeypox have increased 20-fold according to the study.

Much of this is likely due to the immunity that smallpox vaccine granted to related viruses like monkeypox. Most of the patients infected with monkeypox were born after the discontinuation of smallpox.