WHO Warns of Rising Mpox Virus Infections in Africa

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According to the World Health Organization, Africa has now surpassed the Americas as the leading region for confirmed cases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) stated on Tuesday that cases of mpox are increasing in Africa, emphasizing the need for thorough investigations to uncover the underlying causes.

"Today, mpox remains a public health threat as the situation continues to evolve," Rosamund Lewis, WHO technical lead for infectious diseases, remarked during a UN press briefing in Geneva.

Lewis reported that globally, more than 3,100 laboratory-confirmed cases have been documented since the beginning of 2024, with approximately 600 confirmed cases reported to the WHO from 26 countries in May alone.

"In addition, cases are rising in Africa," she cautioned, noting that Africa now leads globally in confirmed cases, surpassing the Americas.

Lewis highlighted that since April, South Africa has reported 13 confirmed cases of mpox caused by the clade IIb virus, a variant of mpox, resulting in two deaths.

Simultaneously, she noted, the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to battle a major outbreak of mpox caused by clade I of the virus, with 9,291 clinically compatible cases and 419 deaths reported in 2024 so far, with a high case fatality ratio of nearly 5%.

Lewis underscored that children are particularly vulnerable during this outbreak, facing "even higher death rates."

"While the clade I virus is currently contained to central Africa, there is concern about its potential spread to neighboring countries and other regions due to its observed lethality," Lewis cautioned.

She added, "Combined with limited global immunity, there remains a risk of broader outbreaks, posing a significant public health threat."

"There is an urgent need to address the recent surge in mpox cases in Africa," she urged, emphasizing, "Intensified investigations and follow-up efforts are crucial to determine the root causes driving this resurgence."

Lewis further highlighted that individuals with advanced HIV infection are at "greater risk" for severe illness and death from mpox.