Mpox outbreak in South Africa: Males most affected

Four additional Mpox cases have emerged in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, with expectations of rising infections as contact tracing intensifies. This development pushes the total number of laboratory-confirmed Mpox cases in South Africa to 20 since the outbreak began in May 2024. All reported cases involve males aged between 17 to 43 years old.

Mpox affected demographics: Age and gender

According to the Department of Health’s data, all reported cases involve males aged between 17 to 43 years old. The recent infections include a 17-year-old man from Hillbrow in Johannesburg, a 37-year-old from Pretoria East, a 29-year-old from West Rand, and a 19-year-old from Durban in KwaZulu-Natal. This highlights the particular vulnerability of younger males to this outbreak.

Of the 20 cases recorded, 10 are in Gauteng, nine in KwaZulu-Natal, and one in the Western Cape. The death toll has remained at three since the outbreak, signalling a severe but stable fatality rate.

Response and expected rise in cases

The Department of Health has activated outbreak response teams for the newly diagnosed Mpox cases.

“Another batch of Mpox-specific treatment is expected to arrive in the country in the next few weeks. The number of cases is also expected to rise due to intensified contact tracing, risk communication, and community engagement activities in the affected communities,” the department stated.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has received over 130 test requests since the outbreak began, underlining the public health system’s growing focus on identifying and managing Mpox cases. The department urges all contacts of confirmed and suspected cases to cooperate with health workers during the contact tracing, screening, and 21-day monitoring period to ensure no case goes undetected. Contact tracing remains a critical tool for breaking the chains of local transmission and controlling the Mpox outbreak effectively.

Mpox symptoms and public health advisory

The department reminds individuals with suspected symptoms to visit their nearest healthcare facility immediately for clinical evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment options, rather than self-diagnosing and isolating.

The common symptoms of Mpox include a rash that may last for two to four weeks, fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, and swollen glands. The rash typically looks like blisters or sores and can affect the face, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and other parts of the body.

The Mpox outbreak in South Africa remains a significant public health concern, particularly affecting males aged 17 to 43. With the activation of outbreak response teams and the anticipated arrival of more treatment options, health authorities are working diligently to manage and mitigate the spread of the virus.

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