Zoonotic Diseases – Monkeypox

Overview of the disease

 Monkeypox is a zoonosis caused by a virus belonging to the family of Poxviridae, genus Orthopoxvirus. Monkeypox virus circulates regularly in some animals in the forests of Central and Western Africa in Congo Basin African countries.

The virus can be transmitted from animal to human and from person to person when they are exposed to the blood, body fluids or rash of an infected animal or to another infected human. The disease is characterized by fever and a vesicular and pustular eruption. Clinically, it resembles smallpox and can be mistaken for severe varicella.

While it takes its name from the animal in which the disease was first identified, the African squirrel or other African rodent species are believed to be the common host for monkeypox.

The first human case of Monkeypox from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was discovered in Basankusu, a rural, forested area of Equator Province in 1970, one year after notification of the last confirmed case of smallpox in the region.

Since the occurrence of the first case of human Monkeypox, DRC still experiences epidemic outbreaks and routine reports of disease to this day.

The WHO-sponsored DRC surveillance reported a case fatality rate of 10% in unvaccinated persons.  Prior vaccination with smallpox (vaccinia virus) vaccine provides protection against monkey pox.

CDC’s Support in the Response to Monkeypox Disease in DRC

In September 2010, CDC sent a team of four people to DRC to assist with disease surveillance efforts and implement resources to help address the burden of monkeypox in this country, focusing on the Equateur region. Working with the Kinshasa School of Public Health (KSPH) and other organizations, the CDC team has initiated enhanced surveillance activities for monkeypox, which includes technical support, training and resource sharing.

In addition, a proposal for monkeypox research through KSPH has been drafted. In its current form, the proposal outlines an investigation plan to evaluate human disease, disease ecology and disease transmission dynamics. Research outcomes should aid in providing evidence for disease control efforts, including the use of vaccine.

Next steps

CDC will continue to serve as a collaborator for monkeypox surveillance and will continue to assist in the strengthening of established and new surveillance systems.

A vaccination study on 1000 health care workers has been initiated and await the results within 2 years.

After the result of this vaccination study, the vaccine will be extended to the whole community living in the region at risk to prevent the disease.