One death linked to Mpox after five cases confirmed in SA

South Africa has recorded five laboratory-confirmed cases of Mpox disease, formally known as Monkeypox, with one death confirmed in Gauteng province.

This was said by Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla on Wednesday. He was briefing the media in Pretoria on the latest developments in the Mpox outbreak.

Symptoms of Mpox include rash, fever, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, back discomfort, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes.

One death in Gauteng

According to Phaahla, two of the five cases were confirmed in Gauteng and three in KwaZulu-Natal. The confirmed death was one of the two cases recorded in Gauteng.

“The patient passed on on Monday in Tembisa Hospital. All of these patients are males aged between 30 to 39 years. [They have no] travel history to the countries currently experiencing an outbreak. This suggests there is local transmission of this infectious disease in the country,” said Phaahla.

All five cases were classified as severe cases as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) definition, requiring hospitalisation.

Phaahla said men who have sex with men (MSM) have been identified as a key population that is at risk.

High risk population

“All the patients are male. Our endeavour is to prevent any further deaths. So anybody who suspects something different with their skin must seek medical help. Even if you think it is chicken pox,” said Phaahla.

“The department is reaching out to organisations working on HIV programmes and with key populations in addition to other stakeholders to implement targeted communication to intensify awareness about the outbreak and local transmission of the disease.”

Phaahla said the Mpox outbreak is characterised by sustained human-to-human transmission. This is via direct skin-to-skin and sexual contact. People living with HIV are disproportionately affected.

Risky behaviours

“It is not a virus that you can acquire by being in one room with a person. One of the patients was more open about their sexuality and relationships, others were not as open.

“One confirmed that he has multiple partners, both male and female. So in that regard, it is not easy to get full disclosure and be able to get all the contacts of the patient. It is much more easy in terms of family, because they live with them.”

Dr Fabio Scano from the WHO said they are working closely with the department to find a treatment for Mpox.

“We are working on getting the drugs available to the patients, as soon as possible. Ten dozes have been packed, and are waiting for shipment from Geneva to here. So we are working with the team to ensure that the paperwork is done.”

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