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Mpox (monkeypox) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

18 March 2024

The World Health Organization and national Ministry of Health report continuing transmission of mpox (monkeypox) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In 2023, 14 626 suspected cases (654 deaths) were reported. There have been 3 576 suspected mpox cases (265 deaths) in DRC in the first 9 weeks of 2024, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. It has been reported that sexual transmission is occurring in the outbreak.

Advice to Travellers

Mpox is a zoonotic infection that is rarely seen in travellers from endemic countries.

Transmission between people occurs through close skin to skin contact (including during sexual contact), or through droplet spread during close contact with a person infected with mpox.

Symptoms in people commence with fever, a flu-like illness and swollen glands followed by the development of a blistering skin rash, resembling chickenpox.

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

Travellers to any destination who may be sexually active during travel (including GBMSM) should:

  • be aware of the risk of mpox
  • practise safe sex
  • avoid close, including sexual contact with someone who is unwell and may have mpox

Travellers should be advised to seek medical help during, or for 21 days after travel if they develop symptoms of mpox and have:

  • had close contact with someone who may have monkeypox, or
  • returned from Central or West Africa: these travellers should also be screened for malaria

While a vaccine specifically against mpox is not available, the smallpox vaccine provides some protection.

For further information see Mpox, Sexual Health Risks and LGBT travellers