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Health Minister Confirms South Africa’s First Mpox Fatality

South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced on Wednesday the first death caused by mpox.

South Africa’s first confirmed fatality from mpox occurred when a 37-year-old man passed away in Tembisa Hospital, according to Health Minister Joe Phaahla’s announcement on Wednesday.

Within the past month, there have been five cases of laboratory-confirmed mpox infections, Phaahla stated at a press briefing.

Mpox is a disease that spreads primarily through close contact, manifesting flu-like symptoms and the development of pus-filled lesions.

While most cases of mpox are mild, it has the potential to be fatal.

 Phaahla noted that all recorded cases of mpox in South Africa involved men aged between 30 and 39, none of whom had travelled to countries experiencing mpox outbreaks, suggesting a local spread of the disease.

He said, “All five cases were classified (as) severe cases … requiring hospitalisation. The cases have co-morbidities and have been identified as key populations, men who have sex with men.”

 Among the mpox cases, one individual has been released from the hospital, another has been discharged for home isolation, and two patients are still undergoing treatment in medical facilities.

Analysis of three cases revealed that they were caused by the mpox strain known as clade IIb, which emerged on a global scale starting in 2022.

In April, the Republic of the Congo officially declared an mpox epidemic following the identification of 19 cases of the virus within its borders.

Mpox was initially identified in humans in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a neighboring country, back in 1970, as reported by the World Health Organisation.

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