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South Africa confirms first monkeypox case

Jun 23, 2022

By Neelam Rahim

South Africa has identified its first case of monkeypox since a world outbreak began. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, confirms that a case of monkeypox has been identified in South Africa through laboratory testing at the NICD on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.

The case was identified by a 30-year-old man within the economic hub of Gauteng, the NICD said in a statement on Thursday. The institute said that the infected man has no recent travel history, and tracing has begun.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla says a 30-year-old man with no travel history was confirmed to have been infected.

“Late yesterday, I received a report from the national health lab service indicating that they have confirmed a lab test of the primary case of monkeypox in SA. The patient may be a 30-year-old male from Johannesburg who has no travel history – meaning it cannot be attributed to the disease having been acquired elsewhere, so it implies that it is with us. So, working with the relevant health authorities, the method of contact tracing has begun to trace the close contacts of this gentleman.”

Monkeypox could be a rare viral disease from the identical family to smallpox but is far less severe. It occurs mainly in remote parts of central and West African countries, near tropical rainforests.

The NICD said, “Since May 2022, monkeypox has been reported in more than 3,000 individuals from several European countries, the USA, Canada, Australia, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

“This is the first multi-country outbreak of monkey pox and is already the biggest outbreak of monkey pox recorded. The cases thus far mostly involve individuals that self-identify as men having sex with men. Risk factors include reporting multiple sexual partners. Recent large social events are thought to serve as super spreader events.”

The World Health Organization recommends increasing vigilance for cases with contact tracing and monitoring laboratory-confirmed patients. Isolation of confirmed cases allows for the prevention of transmission and interruption of the transmission cycle. This classic containment approach eliminates the circulation of the monkeypox virus in humans. Mass vaccination against the monkeypox virus is currently not recommended.

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