South Africa records first death from mpox

South Africa has recorded its first confirmed death from Mpox, the country’s health minister has announced.

A 37-year-old man died as a result of the virus on Monday after being admitted to a hospital in Gauteng province three days earlier, said minister Joe Phaahla.

Mr Phaahla said that all five cases recorded in the country this year – another in Gauteng, and three in KwaZulu-Natal – were classed as severe and required hospitalisation.

He said all were men aged between 30 and 39, who had not been to other countries experiencing an outbreak – suggesting that the disease was being transmitted locally.

Mpox, formerly called monkeypox, is a viral infection transmitted through close contact.

Initial symptoms include fever, headaches, swellings, back pain, aching muscles, which can develop into a rash.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency over an outbreak of mpox in 2022. Although this was ended last year, low levels of cases are still being reported in some countries.

“One death is too many, especially from a preventable and manageable disease,” Mr Phaahla said, urging those with suspected symptoms to seek medical attention and help trace contacts.

Mr Phaahla said the five diagnosed patients had pre-existing immuno-deficiencies, and had contracted the disease since the start of May.

Two of those infected have been allowed to go home, while two remain in hospital.

Anyone who came into contact with the single fatality will be monitored for 21 days.

The first human case was reported in Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970, and the disease remains endemic there, according to the WHO.