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South Africa Reports Increase in Monkeypox Cases: Health Department Urges Vigilance



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The Department of Health in South Africa is issuing a warning to the public as the country sees a surge in cases of the mpox virus, commonly known as monkeypox, with sixteen confirmed cases since the initial outbreak in May.

Some of the typical symptoms of mpox to watch out for include a persistent rash, headaches, fever, muscle aches, and back pain, lasting up to four weeks.

According to Mia Malan, the founder of the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism, transmission of Mpox occurs through direct contact with the blisters containing the virus, rather than through the air.

Individuals who received the smallpox vaccine before 1980 are at a significantly lower risk of contracting mpox, as the smallpox vaccine provides an 85% reduced chance of infection.

The recent cases of mpox include a 40-year-old man from Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, who sadly passed away at home after presenting smallpox-like symptoms, and two additional cases in Gauteng – a 43-year-old man from Johannesburg and a 29-year-old male from Mamelodi.

Of the total 16 confirmed cases, eight are from KwaZulu-Natal, seven from Gauteng, and one from the Western Cape, all involving male individuals between the ages of 23 and 43.

The Department of Health is working closely with provinces and other healthcare stakeholders to educate funeral parlours on safe handling practices for human remains of suspected mpox cases.

Citizens are urged not to panic as the World Health Organisation has not recommended travel restrictions due to the mpox outbreak, but individuals from endemic regions are advised to seek healthcare if feeling unwell and disclose their travel history.

It is emphasized that prompt medical attention should be sought for anyone exhibiting symptoms of mpox, as early diagnosis and treatment are crucial in managing the disease, especially for individuals with underlying conditions like HIV and TB.

Rachel Adams

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