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Man dies of Monkeypox at Thembisa Hospital

The 37-year-old man was admitted to hospital and his confirmed laboratory results were received on June 7.

On June 10, Tembisa Hospital recorded South Africa’s first laboratory-confirmed death from the Monkeypox Virus (Mpox).

The 37-year-old man was admitted to hospital and his confirmed laboratory results were received on June 7.

On June 12, a 38-year-old man was admitted to a local hospital in uMgungundlovu, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and tested positive for Mpox after presenting with extensive lesions, lymphadenopathy, headache, fatigue, oral ulcers, muscle pain and sore throat.

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The patient died on the same day his test results came back positive.

The two deaths bring the total number of positive cases in the country to six with two reported deaths within five weeks.

The patient who died in KZN was living with HIV, and he listed his residential address as Brakpan, Gauteng.

According to the Department of Health, the global outbreak of Mpox has been ongoing since 2022.

The last time South Africa recorded positive cases of Mpox was in 2022 when five cases were confirmed in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Gauteng.

No cases were reported in 2023.

The disease is caused by the monkeypox virus (MPXV), an orthopoxvirus that transmits from person to person through close contact, and from unknown animal reservoirs in East, Central, and West Africa.

“This multi-country Mpox outbreak is characterised by sustained human-to-human transmission via direct skin-to-skin and sexual contact,” said Minister of Health Joe Phaahla during a media briefing on June 12.

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“People living with HIV are disproportionately affected.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) between January 1, 2022 and April 30, 2024, a total of 97 208 laboratory-confirmed cases of Mpox, including 186 deaths from 117 countries in all six WHO regions were reported.

A total of 528 new laboratory-confirmed cases were reported in April.

All South African cases are men aged between 30 to 39 years without 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 cases were classified as severe cases as per WHO definition requiring hospitalisation.

“The cases have co-morbidities and have been identified as key populations, Men who have Sex with Men (MSM).”

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The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) continues with epidemiological and surveillance activities to identify cases for investigation to estimate the magnitude of disease through systematic data collection and analysis.

There is no registered treatment for Mpox in South Africa.

However, the World Health Organization recommends the use of Tecovirimat (known as TPOXX) for the treatment of severe cases, such as in individuals with a CD4 count of less than 350.

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