Monkeypox outbreak in Congo

 
Published: Wednesday 31 October 2007

At least 60 people in northern Democratic Republic Congo have been infected with a rare viral disease, monkeypox. There is no treatment available for the disease characterized by high fever, intense fatigue and lesions.

"Rapid laboratory tests have confirmed the infection in 62 registered cases from the northern department of Likouala," said Jean-Vivien Mombouli, the director of research at the national public health laboratory. Residents had first complained about the disease in January. They say till date 150 people have been infected by the disease, most of them younger than 15.

Monkeypox cases mostly occur in the rainforest areas of central and western Africa. Infection follows physical contact with animals, especially monkeys, during meat preparation. Scientists say the virus has adapted to the human species, and if neglected, it could become more virulent and lethal. Blood samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, to identify the outbreak's origin.

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