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Mpox Alert: CDC Highlights Rising Threat from Congo's Deadlier Strain

Tuesday, May 21, 2024 • Tamil Comments
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The so-called more deadly mpox strain, which is spreading in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has put the Centers for Disease Control on global alert. Though cases have declined from a surge in August 2022, health authorities are not taking their eyes off the ball. Despite the absence of recorded cases of the more deadly strain in the United States, the CDC maintains heightened surveillance and recommends vaccination for all high-risk groups.

Usually characterized by a rash and flu-like symptoms, mpox can be fatal if the victim fails to receive treatment or has weakened immunity. One of the most dangerous clades, clade I of the infection, has caused almost 20,000 suspected cases and led to close to 1,000 people's deaths in the DRC from January 2023 up to April 2024, with more than two-thirds of them being children.

This clade has a much higher death rate than clade II, which arrived in the United States in 2022. Clade I has only reached Central Africa, including the DRC and Cameroon. All of the mpox samples sent in for testing from the United States were clade II from late 2023 to early 2024.

The CDC is concerned with the international spread that appears closely related to Clade II, which had rapid intercontinental spread in 2022. Furthermore, the current mpox test available in the U.S. fails to distinguish between the two strains, thereby hindering efforts to detect the epidemics. The CDC wants more surveillance to be conducted in the DRC for returning travelers in order to help spread the word to the high-risk population.

The community most heavily impacted by the outbreak continues to be men who have sexual relations with other men. With new diagnoses still occurring, less than 25% of at-risk population groups in the United States have completed their full vaccination series. This summer, as there is more social and travel activity, the CDC pushes citizens to be cautious and to vaccinate.

The critical control methods include monitoring for symptoms, considering testing before close contact, and using condoms to reduce the risk. These crucial measures enable individuals to engage in safe social activities and minimize their risk of contracting mpox.

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