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Monkeypox outbreaks in Africa are not concentrated among gay men, unlike in other parts of the world, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the African CDC said Thursday.
Outbreaks of the viral disease have been reported from 78 countries, mainly in Europe, and 98% of cases outside of African countries where it is endemic have been reported in men who have sex with men, WHO says.
But in Africa, where repeated outbreaks have been documented since the 1970s, the pattern of transmission is different, experts said.
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“Currently 60% of the cases we have – 350 – 60% are men, 40% are women,” said epidemiologist Dr Otim Patrick Ramadan, who was answering questions about monkeypox in a media briefing. organized by the WHO regional office in Africa, and who was referring to the number of current cases on the continent.
He said more than 80% of cases in Africa occurred in countries where transmission had previously occurred and that typically people were initially exposed to the virus through contact with animals that carried it, before passing it on to members of the family.
She added that women typically took care of the sick at home, which was one of the factors that spread among women.
Dr Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, acting director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in a separate press conference that there was no evidence that transmission among gay men was a specific factor in epidemics. African.
“We have been collecting data on monkeypox since the 1970s and that particular indicator, men having sex with men, has never emerged as a significant problem here in Africa,” he said.
More than 18,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported worldwide in what the WHO has declared to be a global health emergency.
Monkeypox is spread through close contact and tends to cause flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions.
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Public health agencies have pointed out that although outbreaks in many countries are concentrated among men who have sex with men, anyone can contract the virus through prolonged close contact or from particles on objects such as bed sheets or towels.