South Africa records first death from mpox: Who is at risk of monkeypox?



South Africa has recorded its first confirmed death from Mpox, the country's health minister has announced.

A 37-year-old man died as a result of the virus on Monday after being admitted to a hospital in Gauteng province three days earlier, said minister Joe Phaahla.

Mr Phaala said that all five cases recorded in the country this year - another in Gauteng, and three in KwaZulu-Natal - were classed as severe and required hospitalisation.

He said all were men aged between 30 and 39, who had not been to other countries experiencing an outbreak - suggesting that the disease was being transmitted locally.

Mpox, formerly called monkeypox, is a viral infection transmitted through close contact.

Initial symptoms include fever, headaches, swellings, back pain, aching muscles, which can develop into a rash.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency over an outbreak of mpox in 2022. Although this ended last year, low cases are still being reported in some countries.

Who is at risk of monkeypox?

People who have multiple or new sexual partners are currently most at risk. Engaging communities of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men to raise awareness is essential to protect those most at risk. If you are a man who has sex with other men, know your risk and take steps to protect yourself and others.

How is monkeypox caused?

Monkeypox spreads when a person comes in contact with an animal or someone with the virus. Transmission occurs through Direct contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, sores, scabs, or respiratory droplets. It can also occur through cuddling, kissing, or sex.

What is Mpox?

Mpox, previously known as monkeypox, is a viral disease similar to smallpox caused by the monkeypox virus. Here are key details about mpox, including its symptoms, transmission, prevention, and treatment

Is mpox an STI?

Finally, a growing body of evidence suggests that sexual transmission is the predominant mode of transmission for mpox virus. We therefore conclude that mpox is a sexually transmitted disease.


Mpox typically presents with the following symptoms, which may appear 5 to 21 days after exposure:

  1. Initial Symptoms

    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Muscle aches
    • Backache
    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Chills
    • Exhaustion
  2. Rash

    • Develops 1 to 3 days after the fever
    • Begins as flat lesions, then progresses to raised bumps, vesicles (small fluid-filled blisters), pustules (blisters filled with pus), and finally scabs.
    • Usually starts on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body, including the hands, feet, and genital area.


Mpox spreads through:

  1. Animal-to-Human Transmission

    • Direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids, or lesions of infected animals.
    • Consumption of undercooked meat and other products of infected animals.
  2. Human-to-Human Transmission

    • Close contact with respiratory secretions, skin lesions, or recently contaminated objects.
    • Prolonged face-to-face contact or intimate physical contact, including sexual contact.


To prevent mpox:

  1. Avoid Contact with Infected Individuals and Animals

    • Limit exposure to people with mpox symptoms and animals that could carry the virus.
    • Avoid handling materials used by infected individuals or animals.
  2. Practice Good Hygiene

    • Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and masks when caring for someone with mpox.
  3. Vaccination

    • The smallpox vaccine provides some protection against mpox.
    • Post-exposure vaccination can be effective if administered within 4 days of exposure.


There is no specific treatment for mpox, but the following supportive care measures can help manage symptoms:

  1. Symptom Relief

    • Pain relievers and fever reducers (e.g., ibuprofen, acetaminophen).
    • Antihistamines for itching.
  2. Antiviral Medications

    • In some cases, antiviral drugs developed for smallpox (e.g., tecovirimat, cidofovir) may be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
  3. Hydration and Nutrition

    • Maintain adequate fluid intake and nutrition.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you suspect you have mpox or have been exposed to someone with mpox, contact a healthcare provider promptly for evaluation and guidance. Early diagnosis and supportive care can significantly improve outcomes.

Public Health Measures

Public health authorities may implement measures to control the spread of mpox, such as:

  • Contact Tracing: Identifying and monitoring contacts of infected individuals.
  • Isolation: Advising infected individuals to isolate themselves to prevent transmission.
  • Community Education: Providing information about symptoms, transmission, and prevention to the public.

By understanding the symptoms, transmission routes, preventive measures, and available treatments for mpox, individuals and communities can better protect themselves and manage potential outbreaks.

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