Monkeypox has spread across the globe this year, with 26 confirmed deaths and more than 71,000 cases as a result. However, according to reports by the World Health Organization (WHO), the variant that has rapidly spread is significantly milder than that which is responsible for a large number of deaths in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the more serious variant could soon spread in a similar fashion.
Known as Clade I, the variant has a fatality rate of around 10.6 percent, almost three times that of Clade II at 3.6 percent. While Clade I has historically been confined to the DRC and an isolated time in South Sudan, the WHO now warns that it could spread across the globe if it is continually allowed to circulate in the DRC.
It is likely that the DRC, which has suffered a disproportionately high death toll of 120 suspected monkeypox deaths from the beginning of the year to September 21, has suffered at the hands of Clade I.
It is noted that the WHO currently does not know whether Clade I’s high death toll is a result of poor access to healthcare or more lethal symptoms.
Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which is part of the same family of viruses as the variola virus that causes smallpox, as its name suggests. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, achy muscles, chills, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and – most distinctively – an unusual skin rash that can look like pimples or blisters.
Officials now call for a combined effort in combatting the spread of monkeypox through the DRC, preventing the spread of Clade I or any potential mutations. As Western countries receive increasing numbers of vaccinations, it is hoped that lessons can be learned from the coronavirus pandemic and stop the monkeypox variant in its tracks before it can enter other countries.
[H/T: New Scientist]