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Monkeypox Outbreak in Africa Expands

October 22, 2021 • 2:46 pm CDT
(Vax Before Travel)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert on September 30, 2021, regarding an ongoing outbreak of monkeypox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The World Health Organization recently reported over 8,800 monkeypox cases in Africa during 2021.

Monkeypox is a rare, sometimes fatal disease caused by a virus.

The first symptoms of monkeypox include fever, malaise, headache, and sometimes sore throat and cough. A distinguishing feature of monkeypox from smallpox is lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes). 

The CDC says visitors to the DRC can protect themselves from monkeypox by washing their hands often and avoiding contact with wild animals and products made from wild animals. Furthermore, international travelers should also avoid contact with people who are sick.

Recently, the WHO reported nine suspected monkeypox cases in Nigeria in August 2021. Nigeria is located to the west of the DRC in Africa.

There is a preventive monkeypox vaccine available in the U.S.

The JYNNEOS (IMVANEX, IMVAMUNE) vaccine was initially approved by the U.S. FDA in 2019 and is indicated for preventing smallpox and monkeypox.

On June 21, 2021, the U.S. FDA issued an update for JYNNEOS for adults 18 years of age and older.

JYNNEOS is based on a live, attenuated vaccinia virus (Modified Vaccinia Ankara, MVA-BN), incapable of replicating in the body, yet still capable of eliciting a potent immune response monkeypox disease in adults 18 years of age and older determined to be at high risk for smallpox or monkeypox infection. 

During the U.S. CDC's vaccine committee meeting on September 29, 2021, Agam Rao, M.D. CAPT presented the 'U.S. Public Health Service, presented: Background information to interpret GRADE tables and Evidence to Recommendations framework about JYNNEOS vaccine.'

However, this smallpox - monkeypox vaccine is not recommended for the general public in the USA and is only available from authorized providers.

Note: The CDC has issued various disease alerts for the DRC, such as polio, measles, meningitis, and COVID-19.

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