Tuesday, 25 June, 2024
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South Africa records 5th monkeypox case

Another South African has been diagnosed with monkeypox after recently travelling to Netherlands and Spain, bringing the total number of cases in the country to five.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said samples had been sent to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) for sequencing and contact tracing activated immediately, reports News24.

“There is no link between the first four cases, while the team is trying to establish if there is a link between the fourth and fifth cases since both people have been to Spain, which has so far recorded more than 5 000 positive cases and two deaths,” he said.

Dr Michelle Groome, head of the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response at the NICD, said the risk for South Africans was low, despite the new cases, and that 99% of the people testing positive for the disease were males with a median age of 36.

“With the exception of countries in the African region, the outbreak is primarily affecting men who have sex with men and who have reported recent sex with one or multiple partners.”

She said people at high risk of getting the disease were men who sleep with men, people with travel history, and laboratory staff.

The disease presents itself in fever, headaches and lesions. It is usually self-resolving and lasts for between two and four weeks.

There is no specific vaccine for monkeypox in South Africa, but currently three main vaccines in use worldwide for the prevention the disease: ACAM2000, Jynneos – also branded as Imvanex in the EU – and the LC16m8 vaccine, but none is registered in SA.

While the risk of contracting monkeypox in South Africa is low, the NICD has warned healthcare workers to remain on high alert and to be cautious, especially when attending to people presenting an unexplained acute rash or skin lesions as well as headaches, a high fever, swollen lymph nodes, myalgia and backache.

Most of the cases have been reported from the European region, with more than 17 800 cases, and the Americas region, with more than 14 900 cases. The African region is the third region reporting more cases, with more than 380 confirmed cases.

Phaahla said the disease was similar to smallpox. “South Africa stopped smallpox vaccinations around 1982, when the global vaccination campaign came to an end due to the successful eradication of smallpox. Since then, there have been no smallpox vaccines offered to the general population, and smallpox vaccines have not been included in the Expanded Programme on Immunisation in South Africa.

“However, most people over 40 will have some immunity to monkeypox from their smallpox vaccinations.”


News24 article – Health Minister confirms South Africa’s 5th monkeypox case (Open access)


News24 article – Monkeypox threat still low in SA despite new cases – Phaahla


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Monkeypox threat still low in SA despite new cases – Phaahla


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