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Mpox outbreak confirmed

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A Gauteng man has died while four others remain on treatment after they tested positive for Mpox, the Department of Health confirmed on Wednesday.

One patient has been discharged, one discharged for home isolation and follow ups being made. Two cases are still admitted in hospital.

Speaking at a media briefing, health minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, said five cases have been confirmed in South Africa.

“Two of these cases were confirmed in Gauteng and three in KwaZulu-Natal. The death that occurred is amongst the two cases reported in Gauteng,” he said.

Phaahla said the patient died at the Tembisa Hospital on Monday, June 10.

“All cases/patients are males aged between 30-39 years without travel history to the countries currently experiencing an outbreak, which suggests there is local transmission of this infectious disease in the country,” the minister said.

He added that all five cases of Mpox, previously known as monkeypox, were classified as severe according to the World Health Organization standards, and required hospitalisation.

“The cases have co-morbidities and have been identified as key populations, Men who have Sex with Men (MSM). Thus, the department is reaching out to organisations working on HIV programmes and with key populations in addition to other stakeholders to implement targeted communication to intensify awareness about the outbreak and local transmission of the disease,” Phaahla said.

The department said at the current moment, there was no registered treatment for Mpox in South Africa.

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

“However, the Department has obtained Tecovirimat via Section 21 South African Health Products Regulatory Authority approval on compassionate use basis for the five known patients with severe disease,” Phaahla said.

He said SA is trying to source vaccine from WHO member countries who have stockpiles.

Although, the WHO has not recommended any travel restrictions, it is important for travellers to and from endemic countries to alert health officials on the situation to enable them to provide guidance for case detection and management.

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