The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 2,780 cases of monkeypox, including 72 deaths, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2021 up to the end of October. Monkeypox is widespread in the DRC.
A case has also been reported by the Maryland Department of Health in a resident who recently returned from Nigeria. The patient is not seriously ill and is currently recovering in isolation.
Monkeypox occurs mainly in forested areas of Central and West Africa, with most infections resulting from direct contact with infected animals, primarily primates and rodents, although person-to-person transmission can occur. Symptoms in humans commence with fever and a flu-like illness, followed by the development of a skin rash.
Advice for travellers
Monkeypox is an uncommon zoonotic infection that is rarely seen in travellers.
Travellers to Central and West Africa should:
- observe meticulous hand hygiene if visiting or caring for ill friends and relatives
- avoid contact with primates and rodents and avoid consuming undercooked meat from these sources
- wear protective clothing, including gloves, if involved in the slaughter or care of animals in these regions
A vaccine against monkeypox is not widely available. While prior smallpox vaccination is protective, first generation smallpox vaccination is no longer available.
Further advice and information on monkeypox is available on the TRAVAX website (for health professionals).
Sources: TRAVAX, 18 November 2021 and TRAVAX, 18 November 2021