Cape Town – The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said since the confirmation of laboratory-confirmed monkeypox cases, there have been no fatalities.
From June 22 until September 21, the NICD has only recorded five unlinked cases.
The five cases were from Limpopo, two in Gauteng, and two in the Western Cape. No other cases have been reported and neither have any secondary cases been linked to the five confirmed cases.
The NICD said from May 25 until September 21, it has conducted 382 monkeypox laboratory tests from individuals suspected of the disease in the country (268 persons) and other African countries (114 persons).
It said the testing does not account for the testing conducted by laboratories in the private sector.
“Full genetic sequencing for the first two cases reported (i.e., the first cases to be identified in Gauteng and Western Cape) was conducted. The viral genomes clustered in the B.1 lineage of the Western Africa clade with other viral genomes associated with cases of the current multi-country outbreak,” NICD spokesperson, Sinenhlanhla Jimoh said.
While the risk of monkeypox to the general public in South Africa is considered low, the NICD urges health-care workers to be on high alert and maintain a high index of suspicion for any individuals presenting with an unexplained acute rash or skin lesions and with signs or symptoms such as headaches, acute onset fever, lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes), myalgia (muscle pain/body aches) and backache.
It said to also be on high alert if differential diagnoses have been excluded: chickenpox, measles, bacterial skin infections, syphilis, molluscum contagiosum, allergic reactions, and other locally relevant common causes of papular or vesicular rash.
On July 23, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
He issued temporary recommendations for countries in order to stop transmission and contain the outbreak.
“Several actions have been undertaken to address the requirements imposed by the WHO and related to the PHEIC status of monkeypox. In summary, a national risk assessment and WHO-mediated gap analysis have been conducted, and a multi-sectoral action plan has been developed.
“Discussions are also underway to determine the need for monkeypox vaccines and possible strategies for access to monkeypox vaccines.
“Steps have also been taken to improve surveillance through employing an active case-finding approach in partnership with non-governmental organizations, and improved accessibility of testing aimed at the at-risk population,” Jimoh said.
Globally, from January to September 19, there have been 61 753 laboratory-confirmed monkeypox cases with 23 deaths reported.
These cases have been reported from 105 countries across all six WHO regions (the European, Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Western Pacific, South-East Asia, and African regions).
The majority of cases have been reported from the WHO region of the Americas as it accounted for 36 783 confirmed cases, with the European region accounting for 24 138 confirmed cases.
The African region has the third highest number of monkeypox cases, accounting for 587 of the laboratory-confirmed cases.
While some countries have reported an increase in cases, others have reported their first cases.
The WHO has confirmed the number of cases reported globally is on a downward trend as weekly reported new cases have decreased by 22%.