South Africa records first confirmed death from Mpox

South African health minister says all five cases recorded in country this year required hospitalisation

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Test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive and negative" are seen in this illustration taken May 23, 2022. — Reuters

A 37-year-old man in South Africa died earlier this week as a result of the Mpox virus, South Africa's Health Minister Joe Phaahla said as he confirmed the first death in the country from the virus.

According to the BBC, Phaala said that the man had been admitted to a hospital in the country's Gauteng province three days earlier.

He said that all five cases recorded in the country this year — another in Gauteng, and three in KwaZulu-Natal — were severe and required hospitalisation, the BBC reported.

All patients were men aged between 30 and 39, who had not been to other countries experiencing an outbreak which meant that the disease was being transmitted locally, according to Phaala.

Mpox, formerly called monkeypox, is a viral infection transmitted through close contact. Initial symptoms of the infection 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, which ended last year. 

However, low levels of cases are still being reported in some countries.

"One death is too many, especially from a preventable and manageable disease," Phaahla said, urging those with suspected symptoms to seek medical attention and help trace contacts.

Phaahla said the five diagnosed patients had pre-existing immuno-deficiencies, and had contracted the disease since the start of May.

Anyone who came into contact with the single fatality will be monitored for 21 days.

According to WHO, the first human case was reported in Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970 and the disease remains endemic there.