A total of 5,236 suspected monkeypox cases and 229 deaths from monkeypox among suspected case have been reported so far in 2023 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to a new report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) Friday, reported Xinhua.
According to the WHO's latest report, from Jan. 1 to June 25, the majority of the suspected cases (70 percent) and deaths (72 percent) occurred among individuals between 0 and 15 years of age, while only 455 cases have been confirmed with PCR tests.
The ongoing monkeypox situation in the DRC remains a significant public health concern that necessitates continual monitoring and response, said the report.
The first human case of monkeypox in the DRC (then called Zaire) was documented in 1970 in the Equateur province. Prior to the ongoing global outbreak, the DRC was the country reporting the most cases worldwide, with the cases being reported in most of its provinces. Many of these affected areas fall within the equatorial rainforest, where the virus circulates among wild animals, presumed to be at the root of zoonotic transmission events, which, however, remain largely unconfirmed.
Cases are being notified from Kwango province for the first time this year, illustrating the continuing geographic expansion of monkeypox in the country.
Over the past few years, multiple monkeypox outbreaks have occurred in the DRC, mostly in rural and remote areas where many people depend on forest products for protein, including from wild animal sources. Often, access to diagnostic services and health care is limited, which complicates disease control efforts.