New, Highly Infectious Strain of Monkeypox Virus Sparks Concern in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning about a new, more contagious strain of the monkeypox virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The CDC is urging doctors and health departments to be vigilant and take all necessary precautions.
The newly identified strain, known as clade I, is causing more severe infections and is highly transmissible compared to the previous strain, clade II. Clade II had caused a global outbreak in 2022-23, resulting in over 31,000 cases in the United States alone, with 55 fatalities.
The clade I strain appears to primarily spread through sexually associated human-to-human contact within the DRC. Therefore, clinicians are advised to be on high alert and consider monkeypox as a possible diagnosis when evaluating patients with rashes. They should also investigate further if patients have swollen lymph nodes or if they have recently traveled to the DRC.
To prevent potential outbreaks, public health officials are being advised to enhance surveillance and testing if the clade I strain is detected within the United States. This proactive measure aims to prevent the virus from gaining a foothold and spreading within communities.
Since January, the DRC has reported over 12,500 clinically diagnosed monkeypox cases, with nearly 600 suspected deaths. These alarming figures highlight the urgency with which the global health community must address this growing public health concern.
Though there is a vaccine available for monkeypox called Jynneos, the vaccination coverage in the United States is low. This leaves a significant portion of the population at risk. Particularly high-risk groups for monkeypox include gay and bisexual men, other men who have sex with men, and transgender and nonbinary individuals engaging in certain high-risk activities.
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