In Africa's monkeypox outbreak, sickness and death go undetected

2022 Nov Tue 18:08
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Monkeypox was first detected in Congo 50 years ago, but cases have spiked in West and Central Africa since 2019. The illness received little attention until it spread worldwide this year, infecting 77,000 people. In poorer African countries where many people do not have quick access to health facilities, or are not aware of the dangers, over 130 have died, almost all of them in Congo.
Nurses arrange medicine on a table, at the Yalanga health centre, in Yakusu, Tshopo, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo - Reuters
Angelika Lifafu, 6, who is suffering from suspected monkeypox, sits on a bed at the Yalolia health centre, Tshopo, Democratic Republic of Congo. Without treatment, Angelika can only wait for the illness to run its course. Ahead of her lies a myriad of possible outcomes including recovery, blindness, or, as was the case with a family member in August, death. "These children have a disease that makes them suffer so much," said Angelika's grandfather Litumbe Lifafu. "We demand the government to provide medicines for us poor farmers, and the vaccine to fight this disease." Photo - Reuters
Augustin Yenga Bosongo, 73, a nurse, gives medicines to Otikala Itawelo, 10, to calm his fever at the Yalanga health centre, in Yakusu, Tshopo, Democratic Republic of Congo. The village of Yalanga is a day's journey from Yalolia by land and boat. Surrounded by jungle, it has no phone network or electricity. When the light fades, patients at the health centre lie in the dark on beds of hard bamboo. The clinic, a small building with a tin roof and five rooms, has had three monkeypox cases in the recent months. To notify the authorities of a new case, nurses must travel half a day to get phone reception. When they are busy, getting away is impossible. The recent cases were recorded weeks late, said nurse Alingo Likaka Manasse. Photo - Reuters
Lisungi Lifafu, 12, has his eyes checked by a nurse at the Yalolia health centre, in Yakusu, Tshopo, Democratic Republic of Congo. Without treatment, Lisungi can only wait for the illness to run its course. Ahead of him lies a myriad of possible outcomes including recovery, blindness, or, as was the case with a family member in August, death. "These children have a disease that makes them suffer so much," said Lisungi's father Litumbe Lifafu. "We demand the government provides medicines for us poor farmers, and the vaccine to fight this disease." Photo - Reuters
Marcel Osekasomba, 48, head nurse of the Yalolia health centre, talks to Litumbe Lifafu and a community health worker in front of the health centre, in Yakusu, Tshopo, Democratic Republic of Congo. Lifafu's son and granddaughter are both suffering from monkeypox. "These children have a disease that makes them suffer so much," he said. "We demand the government provides medicines for us poor farmers, and the vaccine to fight this disease." Photo - Reuters
Theopiste Maloko, 42, a local health official, leaves a room in which a probable case of monkeypox is being treated at the Yalolia health centre, in Tshopo, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo - Reuters
Marcel Osekasomba, 48, head nurse at the Yalolia health centre, and Theopiste Maloko, 42, a local health official, check the progress of Lisungi Lifafu, 12, who is suffering from monkeypox, while his father Litumbe Lifafu and mother, Lituka Yenga, watch, in Yalolia village, Yakusu, Tshopo, Democratic Republic of Congo. Without treatment Lisungi can only wait for the illness to run its course. Ahead of him lies a myriad of possible outcomes including recovery, blindness, or, as was the case with a family member in August, death. Photo - Reuters
Alingo Likaka Manasse, head nurse at the Yalanga Health Centre, examines lesions on the hands of Lituka Wenda Dety, 41, who is suffering from monkeypox, in Yakusu, Tshopo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, October 2, 2022. At the height of her illness, Dety's throat was so sore she struggled to swallow her own saliva. Round scars still dot her body, and her bones ache. When she was ill in hospital, her six-month-old son caught monkeypox and died. He is buried in a patch of sandy earth beside her mud brick home. "We want there to be a vaccination campaign," she said. Photo - Reuters
Miracle Kidicho, 3, who is suffering from monkeypox, sits at home in Yalokombe, Yakusu, Tshopo, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 4, 2022. Photo - Reuters
Lituka Wenda Dety, 41, who is suffering from monkeypox, prays with her family at the grave of her baby who died when she was six months old of the same disease, in the village of Yalanga, in Yakusu, Tshopo, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 3, 2022. At the height of her illness, Dety's throat was so sore she struggled to swallow her own saliva. Round scars still dot her body, and her bones ache. When she was ill in hospital, her six-month-old son caught monkeypox and died. He is buried in a patch of sandy earth beside her mud brick home. "We want there to be a vaccination campaign," she said. "Going by what we have suffered, if many people catch this disease it will be catastrophic." Photo - Reuters
Lituka Wenda Dety, 41, who is suffering from monkeypox, has lesions on her face examined by Alingo Likaka Manasse, (R), head nurse at the Yalanga Health Centre, and Theopiste Maloko, 42, (L) a local health official, in Yakusu, Tshopo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, October 2, 2022. At the height of her illness in August, Dety's throat was so sore she struggled to swallow her own saliva. Round scars still dot her body, and her bones ache. When she was ill in hospital, her six-month-old son caught monkeypox and died. He is buried in a patch of sandy earth beside her mud brick home. "We want there to be a vaccination campaign," she said. "Going by what we have suffered, if many people catch this disease it will be catastrophic." Photo - Reuters
A woman buys groceries at the evening market in Yakusu village, Tshopo, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 4, 2022. Photo - Reuters
Dr. Fabien Kongolo does his morning rounds, followed by nurses and trainee doctors at the Yakusu General Hospital, in Tshopo, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 5, 2022. "I'm the one who detected the first case in the Yaboya health area. The case was notified but unfortunately there was no response to our request. The outbreak had to be raging in the West for it to be declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as well," Dr. Kongolo said. Photo - Reuters
Theopiste Maloko, 42, a local health official, places a box containing skin samples onto a motorcycle in front of the Yalolia health centre, in Yakusu, Tshopo, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 3, 2022. To avoid spoiling, samples need to be kept cold and reach a laboratory within 48 hours, but they often do not, he said. Photo - Reuters
Theopiste Maloko, 42, a local health official, checks lesions on the arms of a woman who is suffering from monkeypox and recently lost a child to the same disease, in Yalokombe, Tshopo, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo - Reuters