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Health Experts Caution on New MPOX Strain Leading Miscarriages, spreading without Sexual Contact

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A new strain of monkeypox, officially called mpox, is spreading rapidly in central Africa and is described as “undoubtedly the most dangerous strain of mpox yet”. This mutant variant, named clade 1b, causes miscarriages and has a fatality rate of up to 10% in adults and children.

The clade 1b virus is behaving very differently from the previous clades 1 and 2 that have been seen. It does not require sexual contact to spread and is instead spreading through touch, including from mother to child, as well as in schools and workplaces. The presentation of the disease also differs, with the virus causing whole-body rashes, eye problems, and fever, rather than just lesions confined to the genital area.

The mutant variety, clade 1b, is “undoubtedly the most dangerous strain of mpox yet,” according to Oxford University’s Global Health Network director, Prof Trudie Lang. The virus, discovered in February in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), behaves “extremely” differently than mpox clades 1 and 2, the latter of which burst globally in 2022, primarily among gay males.

Experts warn that this new strain has already likely spread across borders in Africa to neighbouring countries like Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda, even though no cases have been officially reported outside the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) yet. The city of Goma in the DRC, with its large population and international airport, is seen as a particular risk for further spread to Europe and beyond.

Researchers leading the investigation in the DRC say this clade 1b virus is “causing extreme danger in terms of disease severity”and that urgent action is needed by endemic countries and the international community to prevent another global mpox outbreak.

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