KZN man dies from mpox, four infected

Published Jun 16, 2024


Durban — A KwaZulu-Natal man died from the mpox virus this week and four others are infected in the province.

The 38-year-old from KZN who died on the same day he received the results that he tested positive, is the country’s second mpox death.

Dr Sandile Tshabalala, KwaZulu-Natal health department’s head, said four people in the province were confirmed to be infected and one had died.

“Most people infected by monkeypox were men. We were expecting the people who were infected would inform us whether they had been outside the country, but that is yet to be clarified.

“In South Africa, there is no interaction with fluids from monkeys, or from rats. Therefore, it remains unclear where they got it from, but we are currently investigating,” he said.

Tshabalala said KZN’s victim died at a private hospital, after falling ill prior to arriving in the province.

“By the time we could actually apply for the drug that could potentially assist them, it was too late. The drug is applied for through Section 21 of SAHPRA,” he said.

Tshabalala said that some of the symptoms associated with mpox include fever and a rash which gradually transforms into blisters with pus on the palm of the hands and on the soles of the feet.

Babongile Mhlongo, director for Environmental Health and Communicable Diseases Control at the provincial health department, said if a person suspects mpox, they should report to a clinic.

Mhlongo said the first case of mpox was in Gauteng.

She urged the public to allow for contact tracing in suspected cases.

She said that the patient who succumbed to the illness in Gauteng was from KwaZulu-Natal.

Mhlongo said that although one may die from monkeypox, the virus continues to thrive in the body. Therefore, the manner in which funerals are carried out should be treated with extreme caution.

Richard Lessells, an infectious diseases specialist at KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequence Platform (KRISP), a research centre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal said their centre works on viruses and outbreaks, particularly the genomics of infectious diseases, like mpox.

“There are different ways that the mpox virus passed from animals to humans and this happens in endemic areas. So that’s countries in central and west Africa where generally small children are infected from small mammals and rodents, then sometimes pass between children or other household members.”

Lessells said that the outbreak started two years ago and is found mainly in homosexuals.

“We’ve seen in the global outbreak since 2022 and now what we’re seeing is human-to-human transmission and predominantly that’s happening through sexual activity and through intimate close contact during sexual activity.

“The main risk group in the outbreak since 2022 is gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men and that’s likely due to the type and patterns of sexual activity that means that intimate close contact is happening quite frequently and so the risk of the virus passing from one person to another is high.”

In 2022, there was a large outbreak that’s now affected about 100 000 people globally. Now there’s an established human-to-human spread of this virus.”

However, he said that there were no precautions that the public should take with mpox.

“For the general public, the risk is low and is concentrated in a specific group and specific activities. So what’s critical now is to educate and make people aware of how it’s passed and what the risk factors are.”

Lessells is that mpox won’t have the same virus spread as Covid-19 and would not spread through the entire general population. Lessells said a lot of research has been carried out since this global outbreak in 2022.

Sunday Tribune