SOUTH AFRICA — Minister of Health, Dr. Joe Phaahla has urged the public to be vigilant following the country’s first laboratory-confirmed case of Mpox (formerly known as Monkeypox).

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Health on May 13, the case involves a 35-year-old male resident of Gauteng province who tested positive on May 9, 2024.

The initial test was conducted by Lancet Laboratory and subsequently confirmed by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), which promptly notified the Ministry.

Preliminary investigations reveal that the patient has no recent travel history to countries currently experiencing Mpox outbreaks.

Both the national and Gauteng Departments of Health are managing the situation according to established protocols and national guidelines.

Contact tracing is underway to identify any additional linked cases.

Since 2023, an ongoing Mpox outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been attributed to the MPXV clade I, known for its high virulence and higher fatality rate compared to the globally prevalent clade II.

Transmission of clade I is predominantly observed among heterosexual individuals through sexual contact, particularly involving female sex workers.

A new variant, termed “clade 1b,” emerged in April 2024 in Kamituga, a mining area within the DRC.

This variant exhibits increased transmissibility, mainly through sexual contact, raising concerns about its pandemic potential.

Earlier, in March 2024, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) reported an ongoing outbreak of MPXV clade I in South Kivu province, hindered by inadequate testing capacity and limited outbreak understanding, response, and containment.

Mpox is a rare viral infectious disease in humans caused by the monkeypox virus (MPXV). Although it is not highly transmissible from person to person, its global public health significance has increased.

The disease can cause a painful rash, enlarged lymph nodes, and fever. While most people recover fully, some may become very ill.

Mpox presents with an acute illness characterized by fever and flu-like symptoms, followed by a blister-like rash.

 The disease is rarely fatal, with cases typically resolving within two to four weeks, and most do not require hospitalization.

Prevention focuses on isolating cases until full recovery.

Given the virus’s low transmissibility, the risk to the general population is considered low.

The last reported cases of Mpox in South Africa were in August 2022, whereby the World Health Organization has been recommending increased vigilance for cases with contact tracing and monitoring of laboratory-confirmed cases. 

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