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Mutant strain of Monkeypox with ‘pandemic potential’ discovered in Congo

Mpox still a global health crisis: WHO
Source: Pixabay

A new strain of monkeypox, with a ‘pandemic potential’ has been discovered in a town in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dailymail reported. This virus comes from a more dangerous type of monkeypox (clade 1 mpox strain), but it has changed to become even easier to spread and harder to detect.

Health officials advocate ‘urgent measures’ as new mutant Monkeypox strain emerges in Congo mining town

Scientists found this worrying news in Kamituga, a town with many people living close together and not much money, where there’s a big risk of the virus spreading quickly. Up until now, there have been 108 cases.

Details about the new mutant strain were discovered in a recent research paper, the Telegraph reported. Although the paper hasn’t been officially reviewed by other experts yet, scientists worldwide are closely examining it.

The paper emphasizes the need for quick action from the global community to prevent another widespread outbreak of this new strain of monkeypox.

“Without intervention, this localised Kamituga outbreak harbors the potential to spread nationally and internationally,” the authors wrote. “Given the recent history of mpox outbreaks in DRC, we advocate for swift action by endemic countries and the international community to avert another global mpox outbreak,” they add.

The researchers are worried that the ‘highly mobile’ population of Kamituga could be the ideal environment for the new virus to thrive.

Miners and sex workers regularly move to and from the town for employment from neighboring countries like Rwanda and Burundi. And “many people with mpox symptoms remain in the community and do not seek care,” the authors noted.

Experts warn of healthcare infrastructure challenges and call for urgent action

The preliminary report cautions that the “local healthcare infrastructure is ill-equipped to handle a large-scale epidemic.”

The experts have urged for the distribution of vaccines and medications, along with increased surveillance and contact tracing measures to be implemented in the area.

Mpox caused a worldwide outbreak in 2022, spreading to over 100 countries, mainly affecting gay and bisexual men. However, the DRC is struggling to contain a much more lethal version of the virus, called “clade 1”, which results in the deaths of up to 10 percent of those infected.

Last year, the central African nation experienced an unprecedented outbreak, and it seems that it is continuing: in the initial three months of 2024 alone, 3,576 individuals were infected and 264 died, as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO). Two-thirds of the cases and 85 percent of the deaths were among children, Telegraph reported.

About the author

Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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