Africa reports 1,597 suspected monkeypox cases, 66 deaths this year - CDC

Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa. More than 30 countries where the viral disease is not endemic have reported outbreaks this year, most of them in Europe.

 Electron micrograph of monkeypox virus. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Electron micrograph of monkeypox virus.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Africa has documented 1,597 suspected cases of monkeypox since the start of 2022, of which 66 have been fatal, the acting director of Africa's top public health agency Ahmed Ogwell Ouma said on Thursday.

The disease has not yet been contained on the continent, he said, adding that when a smallpox vaccination campaign starts to contain monkeypox worldwide it should begin in Africa.

"Our position is that vaccination is an important tool and needs to start here in Africa," Ouma said during a weekly briefing by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Here... the burden is larger, the risk higher and the geographical spread is also broader," he said.

"Our position is that vaccination is an important tool and needs to start here in Africa."

Ahmed Ogwell Ouma

Where is it in Africa?

African countries that have reported confirmed cases are Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Morocco, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Ouma said.

 A section of skin tissue, harvested from a lesion on the skin of a monkey, that had been infected with monkeypox virus (credit: CDC HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) A section of skin tissue, harvested from a lesion on the skin of a monkey, that had been infected with monkeypox virus (credit: CDC HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

The World Health Organization is due to convene an emergency committee next week to assess whether the monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.

Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa. More than 30 countries where the viral disease is not endemic have reported outbreaks this year, most of them in Europe.

WHO getting monkeypox tests for Africa, urges vaccine readiness

The World Health Organization (WHO) is in the process of procuring thousands of monkeypox tests for Africa but is not recommending mass vaccination at this stage, WHO Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti said on Thursday.

She added that the continent should be prepared for vaccination should the need arise.