Home Opinion and Features SA records two more monkeypox cases. Here’s what you need to know

SA records two more monkeypox cases. Here’s what you need to know

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The National Institute for Communicable Diseases confirmed two more monkeypox (Mpox) cases at hospitals in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

The WHO is collaborating with health authorities to prevent the further spread of the disease. File picture: Polina Tankilevitch, Pexels

THE WORLD Health Organisation (WHO) reported that the monkeypox (Mpox) outbreak started in early May 2022. The fact that cases are emerging from nations where the disease isn’t often present is concerning.

For the first time, several Mpox cases and clusters have been simultaneously reported from both endemic and non-endemic nations in widely separated geographic regions.

There are more confirmed cases of Mpox in Europe and North America than in West or Central Africa, where the virus is endemic.

The majority of cases that have been documented until now have mostly, though not exclusively, involved men who have sex with men; and were discovered through sexual health or other health services in primary or secondary health-care facilities.

An unidentified 30-year-old man from Gauteng, South Africa, was diagnosed with monkeypox by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on June 22, 2022.

Monkeypox is a rare virus that has infected over 3,000 people since May 2022 across Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

It’s the first time it’s spread across multiple countries and is the largest outbreak ever recorded. Most cases involve men who have multiple sexual partners, with big social events possibly spreading the virus widely, according to the NICD in South Africa.

The Department of Health is asking people who’ve been close to someone with monkeypox to visit their nearest health centre.

This comes after the NICD found two more Mpox cases last week at Addington and St Augustine Hospitals in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

According to a statement from the department, the two new cases had contact with a previously confirmed case in the province, suggesting the disease is spreading locally. This could lead to a bigger outbreak in the province.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to four, with three in KwaZulu-Natal and one in Gauteng.

According to the data, all the patients are South African males in their mid to late 30s.

Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect you and your family from getting sick. Picture: Anna Shvets, Pexels

The department said close contact with lesions, sexual contact, bodily fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials, such as bedding, transmit the Mpox virus from one person to another.

Usually, it takes 6 to 13 days for Mpox to appear, but it can take anywhere from 5 to 21 days, the statement said.

“The health officials rely on transparency and cooperation from cases or patients for contact tracing and case finding to determine the rate of transmission of this infectious virus at community level,” it said.

The department said it was pleased by the patients’ honesty and courage during the investigation process and thanked them for assisting officials in tracing suspected cases who also tested positive.

“It is through transparency of both confirmed and suspected cases that government can prevent further transmission and avoidable deaths,” the department said.

The department, along with other stakeholders in the field, is increasing surveillance and risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) activities to combat stigma, which can prevent people from seeking help.

Stigma often worsens outbreaks by stopping people from talking openly about their health.

Common symptoms of Mpox include a rash, which may last for two to four weeks, fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy and swollen glands.

“The painful rash looks like blisters or sores and can affect the face, palms of the hands, soles of the feet and groin, genital and/or anal regions,” the department explained.

Mpox prevention steps by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Get vaccinated! If you are at risk for Mpox but haven’t received your two-dose vaccine yet, consider temporarily changing activities that involve close personal contact (such as sex).
  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like Mpox and animals that carry the monkeypox virus.
  • Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with Mpox has used. (Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with Mpox.)
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels or clothing of a person with Mpox.
  • Hand-washing is one of the best ways to protect you, your family and your friends from getting sick.

The department reassured the public that the situation is under control and promised to provide updates.

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