Monkeypox in Africa

Updated: May 17, 2019


Original publication date: October 24, 2018

Current situation

Nigeria has been experiencing an outbreak of monkeypox since September 2017. Since the beginning of the outbreak, confirmed cases have been reported in the following states: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Federal Capital Territory, Imo, Lagos, Nasarawa, Oyo, Plateau, and Rivers. Suspected cases have been reported in 26 states.

In September 2018, 2 unrelated cases of monkeypox were reported in the United Kingdom in travellers arriving from Nigeria. A health care worker caring for one of these cases also developed monkeypox. In addition, Israel and Singapore have reported 1 case in travellers arriving from Nigeria.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is also currently reporting an outbreak of Monkeypox. Cases have been confirmed in the Provincial Health Divisions of Ecuador, North Ubangi, and South Ubangi.

For the most current case counts, please see the World Health Organization's regional office for Africa weekly bulletin on outbreaks.

About monkeypox

Monkeypox is a disease that is caused by a virus. It is mainly spread to people through direct contact with infected animals (mainly African rodents and monkeys), by bite, scratch, or contact with their body fluids. Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease and does not frequently result in death.

This disease usually occurs in Central and West Africa.

Monkeypox does not spread easily between people. Although uncommon, it is possible for monkeypox to be spread from an infected person to other people through direct contact with:

Monkeypox can also be spread from an infected pregnant woman to her developing fetus.

There is currently no specific licensed vaccine or treatment to prevent or treat monkeypox.

Symptoms of monkeypox occur in two stages, and can begin 5 to 21 days after exposure.

In the first stage, symptoms include:

In the second stage, symptoms include:

This rash is similar in appearance to chickenpox and often begins on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. Symptoms usually last between 14 and 21 days.


Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel. During travel:

Health care professionals caring for returning travellers may be at risk of exposure.

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