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How to prevent being infected by the contagious Mpox disease

The Department of Health encourages individuals, families and communities to support all those who experience Mpox-like symptoms and has provided six tips on how to prevent the spread of the disease.

WITH Mpox (Monkeypox) confirmed cases having risen to 16 in South Africa, the Department of Health urges the public to take precautions to prevent the further spread of the virus.

Last week, the Department of Health confirmed the death of three people and 16 cases of Monkeypox in SA since the outbreak of the virus, also known as Mpox, in May 2024. There have been eight cases from KwaZulu-Natal, seven from Gauteng, and one from the Western Cape, and all cases have been males aged between 23 and 43 years old.

Also read: Minister Phaahla announces more Mpox cases, and another death

Mpox is a rare disease caused by the Monkeypox virus. This virus usually affects rodents, such as rats or mice, or non-human primates, such as monkeys. But it can also occur in people.

Foster Mohale, a health department spokesperson, says anyone can contract Mpox, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation and race.

“Mpox is preventable and manageable, and treatment for both mild and severe cases is available in SA. People at high risk include those living with chronic conditions such as HIV, TB and diabetes. The department, working with provinces and other stakeholders in the sector, has embarked on health education with funeral parlours on how to handle the human remains of those who were deceased due to suspected and confirmed Mpox,” he says.

Mohale dismisses the public’s fears of possible travel restrictions or lockdowns due to an Mpox outbreak.

He explains: “The World Health Organisation (WHO) has not recommended any travel restrictions. However, it is important for travellers from Mpox-endemic countries to seek healthcare if they are ill and to alert health officials about their travel for clinical guidance.”

He encourages individuals, families and communities to support all those who experience Mpox-like symptoms.

The health department shares six tips on how the public can reduce the risk of getting Mpox:

1. Limit close contact with people who have symptoms, like sores or rashes, and people who were exposed and are in the process of a 21-day monitoring period.

2. Talk to your partner about any recent symptoms or illness, possible exposure to Mpox and new or unexplained sores and rashes.

3. Avoid touching rashes or scabs and contact with objects or materials that someone with Mpox used.

4. Check your body for new sores and rashes.

5. Do not share bedding or towels with someone who has Mpox symptoms or someone who has been exposed to confirmed Mpox cases.

6. Wash your hands with soap and water regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

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