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GAUTENG REPORTS MPOX DESEASE FATALITY

Thembisa Shologu

The Department of Health has reported two deaths from Mpox disease in the country, one of which was a male patient from Gauteng.

The patient, aged between 30-39 years, died on Monday, 10 June 2024, at Tembisa Hospital. Notably, he had no travel history to the countries experiencing an outbreak.

Mpox, caused by the monkeypox virus (MPXV), is transmitted through close contact.

Addressing the media, Minister Joe Phaahla said the department has recorded five laboratory-confirmed Mpox cases in the country, including two fatalities.

“All five cases were classified as severe cases as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) definition requiring hospitalisation; the cases have co-morbidities and have been identified as key populations, Men who have Sex with Men (MSM).

“Thus, the Department is reaching out to organisations working on HIV programmes and with key populations in addition to other stakeholders to implement targeted communication to intensify awareness about the outbreak and local transmission of the disease,” said Minister Phaahla.

South Africa’s last recorded Mpox cases were in 2022, with five confirmed cases in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Gauteng. No cases were reported in 2023. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) continues epidemiological surveillance to identify cases for investigation and to estimate the disease’s magnitude through systematic data collection and analysis.

“Currently, there is no registered treatment for Mpox in South Africa. However, the World Health Organization recommends using Tecovirimat (known as TPOXX) to treat severe cases, such as in individuals with a CD4 count of less than 350. 

“However, the department has obtained Tecovirimat via Section 21 SAPHRA approval on a compassionate use basis for the five known patients with severe disease.

“We intend to obtain a stockpile of Tecovirimat treatment for rapid deployment if the current situation leads to a wider outbreak. The World Health Organization will donate the stock,” explained Phaahla. 

Phaahla said South Africa was trying to source vaccines from WHO member countries, which have stockpiles that exceed their needs, and GAVI. These vaccines will be stored and distributed from provincial depots.

Additionally, the newly formed National Advisory Group for Immunisation (NAGI) Technical Working Group for Mpox vaccines is considering vaccination for both pre- and post-exposure administration for high-risk groups, including sex workers, MSM, healthcare workers, and laboratory workers.

“We are also reaching out to organisations working with the HIV programmes and key populations such as the MSM to reach their members since they fall under the category of people at risk. 

“Although the World Health Organization has not recommended any travel restrictions, it is important for travelers to and from endemic countries to alert health officials on the situation to enable them to provide guidance for case five detection and management,” added Phaahla.

Photo Cred:SABC

SOURCED FROM THE GPG WEBSITE.

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