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First monkeypox case confirmed in South Africa

Image: Supplied

Image: Supplied

Published Jun 23, 2022


Cape Town - The first case of Monkeypox has been recorded in South Africa, Health Minister Joe Phaahla revealed on Thursday.

During a media briefing, Phaahla said the National Health Laboratory Services CEO confirmed the case through laboratory tests.

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“The patient is a 30-year-old male from Johannesburg who has no travel history, meaning that this cannot be attributed to having been acquired outside South Africa. Working with the relevant health authorities a process of contact tracing has begun,” he said.

According to the World Health Organization, global monkeypox cases are at 2 103, with one recorded death.

“The NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases) is conducting online in service training for our health workers for them to be able to detect the disease so that the necessary laboratory tests can be done.

“The disease is only spread through close droplets so you cannot get it by being in the same room with an infected person. Thus far it has been dominant in men who have sex with men, but the main feature is transmission is through close contact,” said Phaahla.

Monkeypox is a virus from the same family as smallpox, and is usually transmitted from animals to humans, but transmission also occurs between people by close contact with body fluids and respiratory droplets.

Previous monkeypox cases were rare and usually mild, however, it can still potentially cause severe illness.

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In a statement, the NICD said the virus is not highly transmissible and close physical contact is required for transmission.

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

“The person-to-person transmission involves close contact (for example kissing, cuddling, sexual contact) with an infected person or materials that have been contaminated by an infected person (for example sharing linen, clothes and other household items),” read the statement.

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"The disease has previously been reported in African countries such as Nigeria, DRC, CA Republic and Ghana in the early 2000s. The current outbreak is dominated by high numbers in Europe, for example UK, Spain, Germany, Portugal and France. Cases have also been reported in the USA and Canada,“ said Phaahla.