South African health experts call for vigilance after recorded second monkeypox cases, not linked to the first.
Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla announced that a second case of monkeypox has been identified and the patient is a 32-year-old man from Cape Town, who has no travel history.
Since May 2022, monkeypox has been reported in more than 4 000 individuals from several European countries, the USA, Canada, Australia, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. This is the first multi-country outbreak of monkeypox and is already the largest outbreak of monkeypox recorded.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed that contact tracing commenced in order to identify any other related cases of monkeypox in South Africa.
“Isolation of confirmed cases allows for the prevention of transmission and interruption of the cycle of transmission,” the NICD said.
The National Department of Health (NDoH) said the case suggested there is a high possibility of local transmission as the second case came from a patient that had no travel history and the NICD said it is not known if the second and first cases were linked.
“Although Monkeypox is less contagious than smallpox and causes less severe illness, but the situation is slowly evolving with cases being recorded.
“Therefore, Phaahla urges the public to observe good hygiene practices and other preventative measures which proved to be effective against Covid-19 and other infectious diseases in order to prevent the spread of this virus,” NDoH said.
The department urged members of the public who experience symptoms similar to monkeypox to report to their nearest health care or facility for early detection and successful treatment.
According to the NICD, monkeypox presents with an acute illness characterised by fever and general flu-like symptoms, followed by the eruption of a blister-like rash on the skin.
The disease is rarely fatal and cases typically resolve within two to four weeks.
“Most cases do not require hospital treatment.
“Prevention of infection hinges on the isolation of cases until fully recovered.
“The risk to the general population is considered low, given the low transmissibility of the virus,” the NICD said.
The NDoH said port officials will continue with multi-layered screening measures which include visual observation, temperature screening and completion and analysis of travellers’ health questionnaire when entering the country through ports of entry for early monkeypox detection and successful treatment.
Meanwhile, the City of Joburg MMC for health and social development Ashley Sauls I called on members of public to remain calm and inform themselves about the virus last week
“The virus can be spread through close contact among people, and it need not be contact of a sexual nature.
“However, this virus does not transmit easily and it is important that as a society we remain calm and do not react with the same level of panic as occurred at the start of the coronavirus epidemic in 2020,” Sauls said.
The SA Medical Association (SAMA) cautioned members in other provinces to be on the lookout for this virus.
“SAMA recommends that its members exercise vigilance and is in support of the adoption of contact tracing and monitoring of the cases as per the guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the NICD,” the association said.
The WHO experts will provide an update on monkeypox in Africa, as well as Covid-19 today (Thurs).
The press conference will give journalists an opportunity to ask questions about the virus.