South Africa Reports Surge in Mpox Cases: WHO Notified

OV Digital Desk

Representational Image© Reuters

09 July 2024 – The Republic of South Africa has reported 20 confirmed cases of mpox between 8 May and 2 July 2024, with three fatalities, according to the International Health Regulations (IHR) National Focal Point (NFP). These cases mark the first occurrence of mpox in South Africa since 2022, when five non-severe cases with no deaths were reported.

The recent cases were detected in three provinces: Gauteng (10 cases, 1 death), Western Cape (1 case), and KwaZulu-Natal (9 cases, 2 deaths). The affected individuals are men aged 17 to 43, with 11 out of the first 16 cases self-identifying as men who have sex with men (MSM). Fifteen of the patients are living with HIV, mostly with unmanaged or recently diagnosed HIV infections and advanced HIV disease (AHD). One patient has diabetes.

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The primary mode of exposure reported is sexual contact. Eighteen patients required hospitalization. National health authorities, with WHO support, have implemented several response measures.

The lack of international travel history among the patients, the high HIV prevalence, and the elevated case-fatality ratio indicate that the confirmed cases may represent only a fraction of the actual number of cases, suggesting ongoing community transmission. The general public’s risk remains low, but the risk is moderate for gay men, bisexual men, other MSM, trans and gender-diverse people, and sex workers. There is a potential for increased health impact if the virus spreads further among these and other vulnerable groups in South Africa and neighboring countries.

This situation highlights the continued global spread of the mpox virus, particularly clade IIb, and underscores the persistent risk of cross-border and international transmission