South Africa registers first case of monkeypox

By Ronda Naidu

South Africa registers first case of monkeypox

South Africa has registered its first confirmed case of monkeypox since the announcement of a global outbreak in May, Health Minister Joe Phaahla has said. The patient, a 30-year-old male from Johannesburg, “has no travel history, meaning that this cannot be attributed to having been acquired outside South Africa,” Phaahla specified. The case was identified as the country announced the lifting of COVID-19-related regulations including the requirements for the wearing of face masks and proof of vaccination at ports of entry.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, confirmed the minister’s statement. NICD Executive Director, Professor Adrian Puren, said:

“The implications for South Africa are that the risk of importation of monkeypox is a reality as lessons learnt from COVID-19 have illustrated that outbreaks in another part of the world can fast become a global concern.”

Dr. Jacqueline Weyer from the Special Viral Pathogens Division at the Centre for Emerging, Zoonotic and Parasitic Diseases issued an assurance that the NICD was well equipped to test for monkeypox. She also highlighted that the NICD Sequencing Core Facility will work rapidly to provide sequencing analysis to determine the strain of the current outbreak.

Back in May when the first cases of monkeypox were reported outside the typical epidemic area of Central and Western Africa, relevant South African officials stated that the country did not need mass monkeypox immunisation.

Several European countries, including the USA, Canada, Australia, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates have reported cases of monkeypox in the last few months. This is the first multi-country outbreak of monkeypox and is already the largest outbreak of the disease recorded. As of 15 June 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a total of 2,103 laboratory confirmed cases, one probable case, and one death across 42 countries. Most confirmed cases (84% or 1,773) are from Europe, 12% or 245 cases from the Americas, and 3% or 64 cases from the African region.

Discovered in Congo in 1970, the disease is typically found in West and Central Africa. The infection is transmitted to humans from animals then subsequently spreads from human to human mainly through close contact with body fluids. usually begins with flu-like symptoms such as muscle pain, headache, fever, swollen lymph glands, chills, and exhaustion. Later, however, these symptoms are followed by a rash, typically starting on the face and spreading all over the body. Overall, the disease lasts somewhere between two to four weeks.