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J Clin Microbiol. 2002 Aug;40(8):2919-21.

Outbreaks of disease suspected of being due to human monkeypox virus infection in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2001.

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  • 1Institute of Microbiology, German Armed Forces Medical Academy, Munich, Switzerland.


Seven outbreaks of disease characterized by a pustular rash and suspected to have been caused by human monkeypox virus were investigated. The outbreaks occurred between February and August 2001 in the province of Equateur in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The outbreaks involved a total of 31 persons and caused five deaths. Specimens from 14 patients were available and were analyzed by electron microscopy, virus isolation, and PCR assays specific for monkeypox virus and varicella-zoster virus. We provide evidence that two outbreaks were indeed caused by monkeypox virus (16 cases, with four deaths), that in two outbreaks both monkeypox and varicella-zoster virus were involved (seven cases, with one death), and that two outbreaks were cases of chickenpox caused by infection with varicella-zoster virus (six cases, with no deaths). In one outbreak, no evidence for either monkeypox or chickenpox was found (two cases, with no deaths).

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