SA records second death from Mpox, with six known positive cases

13 June 2024 | SANews

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has announced a second death linked to Mpox, formerly known as monkeypox.

The announcement comes less than 24 hours after the government provided an update on its efforts to control the spread of the infectious disease.

According to the department, the deceased was a 38-year-old male patient, who was admitted at a local hospital in uMgungundlovu, KwaZulu-Natal.

The patient tested positive for Mpox on Wednesday after presenting with extensive lesions, lymphadenopathy, headache, fatigue, oral ulcers, muscle pain, and a sore throat.

“The patient has unfortunately demised in KwaZulu-Natal the same day his test results came back positive,” the statement read on Thursday.

The deceased is said to have been living with HIV and listed his residential address as Brakpan in Gauteng.

This brings the total number of positive cases in the country from five to six, and two deaths within five weeks.

“The department is working closely with both Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal Departments of Health to investigate the case. Further updates and reports will be provided once the investigation has been concluded.”

Data shows that the sequencing results for the first three cases, sequence typed as clade ll b, the same as the sub-lineage responsible for the multi-country outbreak, which began in 2022 and has since spread to over 100 countries.

Phaahla emphasised the importance of personal hygiene, timely presentation at a health facility for early diagnosis, effective treatment in the case of suspected symptoms, and close physical contact with a known case.

“Mpox is a preventable and treatable disease if diagnosed early. People are urged to avoid physical contact with someone who has Mpox, practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.”

The department is also warning patients to avoid contact with immunocompromised people, children or pregnant women, who may be at higher risk of severe symptoms if exposed.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, the Minister said there was currently no registered treatment for Mpox in South Africa.

However, he said the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends using Tecovirimat, also known as TPOXX, for treating severe cases, such as in individuals with a CD4 count of less than 350.

He announced that the department has obtained TPOXX via Section 21 South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAPHRA) approval on a compassionate use basis for known patients with severe disease.

The Minister said they are still looking at obtaining vaccines and considering various options, including who will be the priority target in terms of immunisation.

Government is also looking at immunising sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM), healthcare workers, and laboratory workers.

The department, working together with partner organisations, has intensified both targeted and public awareness to empower citizens with crucial information related to Mpox.

The Minister also emphasised the importance of managing stigma for key populations at risk, while there have been no recommendations for any travel restrictions.

“I think one can safely say that, especially for adults, anybody who develops those kinds of eruptions on their skin, even if you may think it might be chickenpox, even young people, should seek medical attention,” he said.


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