Much like Covid-19, Monkeypox has made its way into South Africa, with two positive cases reported so far.
The country has identified two unlinked laboratory-confirmed monkeypox cases. The cases were reported from Gauteng and Western Cape — two males aged 30 and 32 years old.
This has caused uncertainty and concerns amongst many people who have questions about this disease.
The Witness attended a media briefing, hosted by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), to find out more about the disease and what people can expect.
According to Dr Jacqueline Weyer, from the centre for emerging zoonotic and parasitic diseases, monkeypox is a self-limiting disease, meaning people normally get well without medication, however, severe cases may occur.
Addressing the media, Weyer said there are two main ways monkeypox is transmitted.
We have a zoonotic transmission, which means that one can get it from being in close contact with infected animals, bites, scratches and bush meat preparation/slaughtering.
“The second way of transmission is person-to-person transmission. This means that one can get it from being in close contact with an infected person, be it prolonged face to face contact, kissing or sexual contact,” said Weyer.
She added that one can also get it by having contact with contaminated materials via scabs, lesion fluid and contaminated linen or clothes. The virus enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or mucous membranes like the eyes, nose or mouth.
Executive director of NICD, Professor Adrian Puren, said he does not foresee monkeypox becoming a pandemic.
“With regards to South Africa, we know that Johannesburg is the hub of international travel so I think that is one of our risks, however, given the nature of this particular disease, even though we might have more cases, I do not foresee it being an endemic in South Africa in terms of the explosive nature that we’ve seen like Covid-19,” said Puren.
He added that anyone can get this disease, not just men who have sex with other men.
This comes after a statement from NICD mentioning that the disease has been found mostly in homosexual men.
According to a statement released by the NICD on Thursday, there have been no secondary cases linked to the two confirmed cases in the country reported on June 22 and 28.
The group added that even though the risk of monkeypox to the general South African public is considered low, healthcare workers should be on high alert and maintain a high index of suspicion for any individuals presenting with an unexplained acute rash or skin lesions.
According to the group, other signs or symptoms include headaches, acute onset of fever (\>38.5°C) swollen lymph nodes, muscle pain/body aches, and backaches.
People have been urged to isolate at home and talk to a health worker if they have symptoms and to avoid skin-to-skin or face-to-face contact, including sexual contact with anyone who has symptoms.