A rare case of monkeypox has been reported in Western Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In a joint statement issued with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation on Friday, WHO confirmed that a 35-year-old male remains in hospital in the coastal Pujehun district near the Liberian border.
The man first was admitted more than a month ago, and laboratory tests completed in Kinshasa confirmed just the third known case of monkeypox in Sierra Leone. The first reported case was in 1970, and the second in 2014.
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease seen in the rainforests of Central and West Africa. It is transmitted to people primarily by infected animals, including squirrels, rats, mice and monkeys, with limited transmission between humans. Nonetheless, careful monitoring continues in the affected community, including 13 people known to be in close contact with the patient but who remain without symptoms.
Those symptoms include fever, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes, followed by a skin rash. They can normally be treated – monkeypox has a fatality rate of between one and 10 percent. Preventive measures include avoiding bush meat, and the public is advised to stop any trapping of animals for food, especially monkeys and squirrels.
The most recent monkeypox outbreak was in Central African Republic in 2016, with 26 cases and two deaths reported. It was first identified in Democratic Republic of Congo nearly 50 years ago.