South Africa reports second mpox death this week

More than 97,000 cases and 186 deaths were reported across 117 countries in the first four months of 2024.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 15: A sign announcing monkeypox vaccination is setup in Tropical Park by Miami-Dade County and Nomi Health on August 15, 2022 in Miami, Florida. Miami-Dade continues to urge people to vaccinate as they work to get more vaccines now that the county has over 400 cases, which is the most in the state. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)
Mpox spreads through close physical contact. Most cases are mild but some can be deadly [File: Joe Raedle/Getty Images via AFP]

A second person has died in South Africa this week from the viral infection mpox, says the health ministry, less than 24 hours after it announced the first death.

Previously known as monkeypox, mpox is a viral illness transmitted through close contact with infected humans or animals, as well as via materials such as contaminated sheets.

In July 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency, which lasted for 10 months.

On Thursday, South Africa’s government said the second person who died was a 38-year-old man.

He was admitted to a hospital in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province with extensive lesions, headache, fatigue, oral ulcers, muscle pain and a sore throat. He tested positive for mpox on Wednesday.

“The patient has unfortunately demised in KZN the same day his test results came back positive,” spokesperson for the national health department Foster Mohale said.

The total number of laboratory-confirmed mpox cases stands at six in the country, with two deaths since the first case was recorded five weeks ago.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Joe Phaahla had announced the first death, and four more infections.

“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.

The six cases were the first recorded in the country since 2022.

Mpox spreads through close physical contact. Most cases are mild but it can kill.

The disease causes painful and scarring lesions, principally to the face, anus and genitals. Common symptoms include a skin rash, fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes, according to the WHO.

Mpox was first discovered in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with the spread since then mainly limited to certain West and Central African nations.

More than 97,000 cases and 186 deaths were reported across 117 countries in the first four months of 2024, according to the WHO.

Phaahla, the health minister, said that all those recently infected in South Africa were men in their 30s. Their cases were classified as severe.

“Our intention is to obtain a stockpile of Tecovirimat treatment for rapid deployment in case the current situation leads to a wider outbreak,” Phaahla said, referring to an antiviral drug.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies