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Africa sees 68% jump in zoonotic outbreaks in recent decades

WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti. Photo: YouTube / WHO

  • The decade between 2012 and 2022 saw more zoonic infections in Africa compared to the previous one.
  • Ebola accounts for 70% of zoonotic infections on the continent, while monkey pox and other diseases account for 30%.
  • Urbanization has been highlighted by the World Health Organization as a major driver for infections in Africa.

There has been a sharp increase in outbreaks of zoonotic diseases in Africa in recent decades. [2012 to 2022] compared to the previous one, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

Amid the worldwide spread of monkey pox, a zoonotic disease endemic in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Ghana (only identified in animals), Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo [Congo-Brazaville]and Sierra Leone.

“Africa is facing an increasing risk of outbreaks caused by zoonotic pathogens, such as the monkeypox virus that originated in animals and subsequently changed species and infected humans,” the WHO said in a statement.

A WHO report found that between 2001 and 2022, 1,843 public health-related events were recorded in the WHO-African region.

Thirty percent of these events were outbreaks of zoonotic disease.

Although these numbers have increased over the past two decades, there was a certain peak in 2019 and 2020 when zoonotic pathogens represented about 50% of public health events.

Also read | Top WHO official on how to curb the recent Ebola outbreak in DRC

By 2022, zoonotic infections account for more than 60% of the public health crisis for the decade.

“There is a 63% increase in the number of zoonotic outbreaks in the region in the decades from 2012 to 2022 compared to 2001 to 2011,” the WHO said.

Ebola, which was recently contained after a 14th outbreak in the DRC since 1976, is the most common of the zoonotic infections in Africa, followed by monkey pox.

“[The] Ebola virus disease and other viral hemorrhagic fever account for nearly 70% of these outbreaks; with dengue fever, anthrax, plague, monkey pox and a variety of other diseases that make up the remaining 30%, “said the WHO.

The observation of a peak in zoonotic disease is due in part to increased surveillance in Nigeria and the DRC, which is attributed to laboratory testing capacity in the countries.

Monkeypox cases in Africa have broken the 2,000 mark so far this year and the average age of the infected was 17, according to a WHO report.

“From January 1 to July 8, 2022, there have been 2,087 cumulative cases of monkey pox, of which only 203 were confirmed.

“The overall mortality rate for the 203 confirmed cases is 2.4%. Of the 175 confirmed cases for which case-specific data are available, 53% were male and the median age was 17 years,” the organization said.

Why the rise of infections?

The WHO attributed this to the growing population of Africa and demand for food.

“Africa has the fastest growing population in the world and there is a growing demand for food derived from animals, including meat, plums, eggs and milk,” it said.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said Africa, although transmission between humans and animals was not a new phenomenon, urbanization had made it worse in Africa.

She added:

With improved transportation in Africa, there is an increased threat of zoonotic pathogens traveling to large city centers.

“Zoonotic diseases are caused by spillover events from animals to humans. Only when we break down the walls between disciplines can we address all aspects of the response.”

Moeti spoke at a virtual press conference on Thursday, where she was joined by Dr Franklin Asiedu Bekoe, Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service and Dr Karim Tounkara, the Regional Representative for Africa for the World Organization for Animal Health.


The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained therein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

Africa sees 68% jump in zoonotic outbreaks in recent decades

Source link Africa sees 68% jump in zoonotic outbreaks in recent decades

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