New Mpox mutation in DRC raises pandemic fears

Researchers have called for urgent action to contain the spread of a potent strain of the Mpox virus that has been found in a mining town in DRC.

The new Mpox lineage has a potential to develop into a global pandemic if not contained locally, according to a new research by a group of Canadian experts.

The scientists have been studying Mpox from October 2023 in the DRC mining town of Kamituga, where cases reached 240.

Mpox, previously known as Monkeypox, is a rare disease similar to smallpox caused by a virus. It is found mostly in Africa, but has been seen in other regions of the world. It causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, and a rash that can take weeks to clear.

The researchers say the ongoing situation in Kamituga echoes the 2017 to 2018 outbreak of clade IIb mpox in Nigeria, which is now widely considered a harbinger to the unprecedented global spread of the disease a few years later.

“The highly mobile nature of this mining population poses a substantial risk of outbreak escalation beyond the current area and across borders,” reads the research paper.