581 deaths from mpox since January, record number of cases over one year

Long called monkeypox, the disease is characterized by skin rashes and can be accompanied by bouts of fever.


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An illustration of the mpox virus, a smallpox-like disease, made on December 21, 2021. (TUMEGGY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / MTT)

The WHO reported on Saturday, November 25, 12,569 suspected cases of mpox (long called monkeypox), including 581 deaths, in the Democratic Republic of Congo from January to November 12. “This is the highest number of cases ever reported for a year, some in geographic areas that have never reported cases of mpox before, including Kinshasa, Lualaba and South Kivu.”according to a situation report from the World Health Organization in Geneva.

Concerned by new characteristics of sexual transmission of a variant of the virus, the WHO is currently leading a joint mission with the Ministry of Health of the DRC “to assess the situation”. The disease, first reported in humans in 1970 in the DRC, is characterized by skin rashes, which can appear on the genitals or in the mouth, and can be accompanied by bouts of fever, sore throat or pain in the lymph nodes.

WHO calls for vigilance

Outbreaks of mpox had been observed, starting in May 2022, in Europe and the United States, apart from the dozen countries in central and west Africa where the disease has long been endemic, pushing the WHO to declare the maximum alert level on July 23, 2022. On May 11, the WHO lifted the alert, while calling for people to remain vigilant.

This epidemic has spread primarily due to transmission through sexual contact among men who have sex with men. Transmission can also occur through contaminated objects in particular. A total of 91,788 laboratory-confirmed cases of mpox, including 167 deaths, were reported in 116 countries and territories from January 2022 to October 31, 2023, according to WHO.

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