Minister of Health Addresses Mpox Outbreak(12 June, 2024)

A global outbreak of Mpox disease, formerly known as Monkey pox, has been ongoing since 2022. South Africa is among the countries currently experiencing the outbreak of Mpox, a viral infection which spreads between people, and occasionally from the environment to people, via objects and surfaces that have been touched by a person with Mpox.

The country has recorded a total number of 5 laboratory-confirmed cases and one death. Two of these cases were confirmed in Gauteng and three in KwaZulu-Natal. The death that occurred is among the two cases reported in Gauteng. The patient passed-on on Monday, 10 June 2024 in Tembisa Hospital. 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.

All five cases were classified severe cases as per WHO definition requiring 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.

One patient has been discharged, one discharged for home isolation and follow ups being made. Two cases are still admitted in hospital. Sequencing analysis of three of the cases revealed mpox clade IIb, in keeping with the multi-country mpox outbreak which began in 2022.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) continues with epidemiological and surveillance activities to identify cases for investigation to estimate the magnitude of disease through systematic data collection and analysis. A total of 38 contacts were identified in KwaZulu-Natal by the outbreak response teams. The contacts include household contacts (16), hospital contacts (10), partners/sexual partners (5) and friends (7). One of the cases indicated to have had sexual contact with multiple partners including both males and females.

At the current moment, there is 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 SAPHRA approval on compassionate use basis for the five known patients with severe disease.

For more information about Mpox, click here.


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