Mpox death toll rises to two

Minister of Health Joe Phaahla. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Minister of Health Joe Phaahla. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jun 13, 2024


A male patient aged 38 from KwaZulu-Natal is the second person to die from laboratory-confirmed cases of mpox in South Africa.

The patient died the same day his test results came back positive from a laboratory.

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla announced the second death linked to the disease just less than 24 hours after he provided an update on the government’s efforts to curb the spread of the infectious disease.

Phaahla said the patient was admitted to a hospital in uMgungundlovu, KZN. He tested positive for mpox on Wednesday this week after suffering extensive lesions, lymphadenopathy, a headache, fatigue, oral ulcers, muscle pain and a sore throat.

“The patient was unfortunately demised in KZN the same day his test results came back positive. This brings the total number of positive cases in the country from five to six and two deaths within a period of five weeks,” Phaahla said.

The patient had HIV, and he listed his residential address as Brakpan, Gauteng.

Phaahla said the national health department was working closely with Gauteng and KZN to investigate the case.

Further updates and reports would be provided once investigation had been completed.

Phaahla said results for the first three cases sequence typed as clade ll b, the same as the sub-lineage responsible for the multi-country outbreak which began in 2022 and had since spread to over 100 countries.

Briefing the media on Wednesday, Phaahla said the first patient died on June 10 at Tembisa Hospital.

All cases were men aged between 30 and 39 without a travel history to the countries currently experiencing an outbreak, which suggested there was local transmission of the infectious disease in the country.

All cases were classified as severe in accordance with the WHO definition, requiring hospitalisation. The department had obtained tecovirimat via Section 21 Sahpra (South African Health Products Regulatory Authority) approval on a compassionate use basis for the five known patients with severe disease.

Phaahla said as far as the vaccine was concerned, options were being considered as to which population groups should be targeted.

“South Africa is trying to source vaccines from WHO member countries who have stockpiles that exceed their needs and from Gavi.

“These vaccines will be stored and distributed from our provincial depots,” said Phaahla.

Phaahla referred to the importance of personal hygiene, timely presenting at health facilities for an early diagnosis and effective treatment in case of suspected symptoms, and close physical contact with a known case.

He said mpox was a preventable and treatable disease if diagnosed early. People were urged to avoid physical contact with someone who had mpox, practise hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Diagnosed cases/patients should, where possible, avoid contact with immunocompromised people, children or pregnant women who may be at higher risk of severe symptoms if exposed.

“One death is too many, especially from a preventable and manageable disease like mpox,” Phaahla said.

The Star

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