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LISTEN | First case of monkeypox identified in SA

23 June 2022 - 12:12
Gauteng has recorded the first case of monkeypox in SA. File photo.
Gauteng has recorded the first case of monkeypox in SA. File photo.
Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

A 30-year-old man from Gauteng has been identified with the first confirmed case of monkeypox in SA.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Thursday confirmed the case of monkeypox was identified through laboratory testing on Wednesday.

The patient had not been travelling. 

“Contact tracing has commenced, identifying any additional linked cases of monkeypox in SA,” said the NICD.

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection in humans.

Since May it has been reported in more than 3,000 individuals from several European countries, the US, Canada, Australia, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, according to the NICD.

“This is the first multi-country outbreak of monkeypox and is already the largest outbreak of monkeypox recorded,” said NICD spokesperson Sinenhlanhla Jimoh.

According to the report, the virus is not highly transmissible and close physical contact is required for transmission.

Close contact can involve kissing, cuddling and sexual contact with an infected person or with materials that have been contaminated by an infected person, such as linen and clothes.

Though sexual contact with any infected partner can spread the virus, to date most of the cases have involved men with same-sex partners.

The NICD is cautioning against multiple sex partners and reported that “recent large social events are thought to have served as superspreader events”.

“It does not spread similarly to influenza or the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“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 patients will suffer for two to four weeks with most cases requiring no hospital treatment.

There is a low risk to the general population but sufferers should isolate to prevent spreading the disease.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends increasing vigilance for cases with contact tracing and monitoring of laboratory-confirmed cases. Isolation of confirmed cases allows for the prevention of transmission and interruption of the cycle of transmission.

“Circulation of the monkeypox virus in humans may be eliminated through this classic containment approach.”

The WHO has not recommended mass vaccination against the virus.

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