Two dead from deadly mpox disease

Deadly spread of the mpox disease alarms the health sector

Deadly spread of the mpox disease alarms the health sector

Published Jun 16, 2024


As the cases of people infected with the deadly mpox disease rise and two are reportedly dead, medical personnel across the country are urging everyone to be on high alert to avoid infection.

This as the Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases announced that at least two people had died last week after contracting the infection, despite reportedly having no travel history outside of the country.

In the first case last month, a 35-year-old man from Gauteng was confirmed to have the disease formally known as monkeypox, but, according to health professionals, there was no evidence to link him to external infection.

Within two weeks a man from KwaZulu-Natal was confirmed to have presented with symptoms and confirmed by the laboratory, and he too had no history of travel further than the province.

Last week the Department of Health sounded a warning for everyone to be on high alert, saying: “As of today, a total of 7 laboratory-confirmed cases and two deaths were reported from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and Western Cape provinces.

“The cases were confirmed at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) of South Africa.”

They said all the cases were classified as severe and they required hospitalisation. “All cases are male, between the ages of 30 and 39 with co-morbidities (HIV-positive), and five of the seven identified as “men who have sex with men,” the department said.

Preliminary investigations indicated that all cases had no history of travel to countries with ongoing mpox outbreaks.

The Ministry of Health said they had deployed rapid response teams to support further investigations and known contacts of the confirmed cases were being monitored for a period of 21 days. “Additionally, active case search, case management, and risk communication are ongoing in affected communities.”

The Centre for Disease Control’s (CDC) Dr Jean Kaseya, met with Dr Joe Phaahla, Minister of Health, and Dr Sandile Buthelezi, Director General of the National Department of Health, to assess the situation and coordinate the response to this outbreak.

“At Africa CDC, we commend the leadership and efforts of the South African government in managing this outbreak and appreciate the support from partners like WHO. We are committed to supporting South Africa in securing the necessary doses of mpox vaccines, and building capacity for event-based surveillance focusing on community and health facility,” they said.

The CDC said an mpox outbreak anywhere was a threat everywhere and so they wanted swift and urgent action to increase access to mpox diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics for all affected African countries.

Infection control measures had to quickly be put into place, health stakeholders and experts said, to avoid the fast spread and the possibility of an pandemic, which could force the country into lockdown for management purposes.

Sunday Independent