Mpox: New Cases Emerge in South Africa


The mpox outbreak in South Africa has claimed a second victim, while a Gauteng man has been diagnosed in the Western Cape.

The Department of Health confirmed on Friday that the number of mpox-positive cases had increased to seven. All the patients have been men in their early to late 30s and most are believed to be men who have sex with men (MSM).

The latest confirmed case is a 39-year-old man who was admitted on 28 May at a local private health facility in Cape Town. He was tested positive for mpox on 13 June by a private laboratory.

While the man was diagnosed in the Western Cape, he listed his residential address as Northcliff, Johannesburg, in Gauteng. Like several of the other patients who have been identified, he is living with HIV and presented with extensive lesions (rash).

The newest case follows the death of the sixth patient in this outbreak, a 38-year-old man who was admitted to a local hospital in uMgungundlovu, KwaZulu-Natal, and died on 12 June. He also listed a Gauteng residential address, in Brakpan.

People who are immunocompromised, such as those living with HIV who are not on treatment, are at higher risk of more severe mpox. 

The Department of Health has urged all individuals taking medication for any health condition to adhere to treatment as per the guidance of their healthcare provider to minimise the risk of serious mpox complications.

The department is scheduled to receive a batch of mpox treatment, tecovirimat, which has been found to improve outcomes for those infected with the virus.

Mpox Symptoms and How It Spreads

Common symptoms of mpox include a rash lasting two to four weeks, fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, and swollen glands.

The rash can be painful and looks like blisters or sores, affecting the face, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, groin, genital, and/or anal regions (including inside the rectum).

Mpox can be spread during any close or intimate physical contact between people. This contact can occur during sex, including oral, anal, and vaginal sex, or touching the genitals or anus of a person with mpox.

It can also be spread through hugging, massage, kissing, or talking closely, or by touching fabrics, shared surfaces, and objects, such as bedding, towels, and sex toys, used by a person with mpox. While the outbreak has mostly affected MSM networks around the world, anyone can be affected.

The WHO recommends that MSM reduce the number of sexual partners; avoid group sex; avoid sex-on-premises venues (cruising bars, saunas, and darkrooms); and avoid using alcohol or drugs in sexual contexts (including chemsex).

An infected person is contagious from the onset of the rash/lesions through the scab stage. Once all scabs have fallen off, a person is no longer contagious. While the disease usually resolves on its own, it can, in rare cases, be fatal.

If you have any symptoms, you are urged to isolate from others and see a doctor or healthcare provider.

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