In Africa, animal-to-human diseases are on the rise.
According to a new World Health Organization (WHO) analysis, Africa is facing an increasing risk of zoonotic pathogen outbreaks.
In the decade from 2012 to 2022, the number of zoonotic outbreaks in the region increased by 63% when compared to 2001-2011.
According to the findings, there were 1,843 substantiated public health events recorded in the WHO African region between 2001 and 2022. Thirty percent of these events were outbreaks of zoonotic diseases.
While these figures have risen over the last two decades, there was a significant increase in 2019 and 2020, when zoonotic pathogens accounted for roughly half of all public health events. Ebola and other viral hemorrhagic fevers account for nearly 70% of these outbreaks, with dengue fever, anthrax, plague, monkeypox, and a variety of other diseases accounting for the remaining 30%.
According to the most recent data on monkeypox, there has been a significant increase in cases since April 2022, when compared to the same period in 2021. The increase has been observed primarily in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria, and could be attributed in part to improved monkeypox surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in the countries, though further research is being conducted.
However, this upward trend is still lower than the region's highest monthly cases of monkeypox in 2020. Cases of monkeypox have been increasing since 2017, with the exception of 2021, when there was a sudden drop.
There were 2,087 total monkeypox cases from January 1 to July 8, 2022, with only 203 confirmed. For the 203 confirmed cases, the overall case fatality rate is 2.4 percent. The median age was 17 years for the 175 confirmed cases for which case-specific data is available.
In Kenya, WHO confirmed Rift Valley fever (RVF) cases in humans in Isiolo and Mandera counties, as well as in animals in Isiolo, Mandera, Murang'a, and Garissa counties, last year.
There were 32 human cases as of February 4, 2021, with 14 confirmed positives and 11 deaths.
Rift Valley Fever outbreaks are common in Kenya, and several cases have been reported in the past (1998, 2006-2007, 2014, 2018). The previous year's outbreak was linked to rivers and flooding.
According to the WHO analysis, the rise in zoonotic cases could be due to a number of factors. Africa has the world's fastest-growing population, and there is an increasing demand for animal-derived foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. Population growth is also causing increased urbanization and encroachment on wildlife habitats. Road, rail, boat, and air links are also improving across Africa, increasing the risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks spreading from remote, sparsely populated areas to large urban areas.