Africa CDC says homosexual intercourse ‘not related’ in monkeypox there

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NAIROBI, Kenya — Africa’s public well being company says it doesn’t know the way lots of the continent’s reported monkeypox instances this yr are in males who’ve intercourse with males, and it warned Thursday towards “any stigmatization” that may delay case reporting and have an effect on the outbreak response.

The monkeypox instances reported in Europe and North America have nearly completely concerned homosexual and bisexual males, although well being officers have mentioned the virus can infect anybody who’s in shut, bodily contact with an contaminated particular person, their clothes or bedsheets.

However “that indicator is not relevant in the African context,” the performing director of the Africa Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, Ahmed Ogwell, advised reporters. A lot of Africa’s 54 nations criminalize consensual same-sex relations to some extent.

Ogwell was requested how the difficulty of males having intercourse with males may very well be dominated out as an element within the largely conservative continent’s present outbreak if his company had no statistics on it.

“It’s not an issue here,” he mentioned. “And frankly, we don’t want to make it an issue because we have serious outbreaks to manage and don’t want to get into a discussion that will distract us (from preparedness and response).”

Though monkeypox has been endemic in components of Africa for many years, it largely jumps into folks from contaminated wild animals and has not sometimes unfold very far past the continent.

Ogwell mentioned well being officers in Africa have collected information on monkeypox since 1970 and that males who’ve intercourse with males has by no means come up as a big problem. He mentioned the drivers of this outbreak are “traditional” ones, together with shut contact in confined areas and dwelling in communities in touch with animals which have the virus.

“We have not seen any evidence of any specific group of persons being affected by monkeypox,” he mentioned. “All communities, all ages, all genders are at risk.” He urged folks to “avoid definitions and communications that may stigmatize those exposed.”

A extra deadly type of monkeypox is spreading in Africa than within the West. Africa has had greater than 2,800 confirmed and suspected instances in 11 nations this yr, together with 103 deaths.

The variety of confirmed and suspected instances elevated by 766 because the Africa CDC’s briefing final week, with 28 new deaths. The case fatality price is “relatively high” at 3.6%, the Africa CDC mentioned.

Solely a handful of deaths have been reported outdoors Africa on this outbreak. On Thursday, the World Well being Group mentioned the variety of instances globally elevated by about 19% up to now week. Greater than 25,000 instances have been recorded.

The Africa CDC director additionally mentioned the continent nonetheless doesn’t have any doses of monkeypox vaccines, although discussions proceed with plenty of nations and establishments on acquiring them. He mentioned testing kits are urgently wanted as effectively.

Specialists suspect the monkeypox outbreaks in North America and Europe might have originated in Africa lengthy earlier than the illness began spreading by way of intercourse at two raves in Spain and Belgium. Greater than 70% of the world’s monkeypox instances are in Europe, and 98% are in males who’ve intercourse with males.

In a separate briefing Thursday by the WHO, emergency officer Otim Patrick Ramadan mentioned there is no such thing as a proof but that monkeypox is transmitted by homosexual intercourse as 60% of instances in Africa are males whereas 40% are girls, “so it would be clear from there that it is not the pattern we are seeing in our region.”

A niche in obtainable information and restricted sequencing implies that well being officers can not affirm whether or not the monkeypox in Europe and elsewhere is genetically an identical to that present in Africa up to now, Ramadan mentioned, and nothing reveals whether or not the instances in Africa are seeded from Europe and are usually not the indigenous kind.

Related Press writers Chinedu Asadu in Abuja, Nigeria, and Maria Cheng in London contributed.

Comply with all of AP’s protection about monkeypox at https://apnews.com/hub/monkeypox

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