Virulent Strain of Monkeypox (MPXV) Spread Through Sexual Contact  

An investigation of the rapid monkeypox (MPXV) outbreak that emerged in October 2023 in the Kamituga region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has revealed that sexual contact was a key mode of transmission of infection. This is attributed to a distinct MPXV Clade Ib lineage, divergent from previously sequenced Clade I strains in DRC. Type of mutations was suggestive of recent human-to-human transmission. 

Many European countries have reported continuously increasing number of monkeypox infections since May 2022. Clusters of cases associated with potential superspreading events were reported in Belgium, Spain, and the United Kingdom. A total of 94,274 cases (as on 10 January 2024) has been reported in all six WHO regions.  

Monkeypox virus (MPXV) is a double-stranded DNA virus closely related to smallpox. It belongs to genus Orthopoxvirus along with vaccinia virus (VACV) and variola virus (VARV) that infect humans. According to WHO classification of Diseases, it causes “monkeypox (mpox)”. The former Congo Basin clade is called Clade one(I) and the former West African clade is called Clade two (II). The Clade II consists of two subclades Clade IIa and Clade IIb.   

The 2022 global outbreak is attributed to Clade IIb variants.  



  1. Vakaniaki, E. H. et al 2024. Sustained Human Outbreak of a New MPXV Clade I Lineage in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Preprint at medRxiv. Posted 15 April 2024. DOI:  
  1. Monzón, S., Varona, S., Negredo, A. et al. Monkeypox virus genomic accordion strategies. Nat Commun 15, 3059 (2024). Published: 18 April 2024. DOI:  


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