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First Case Of Monkeypox Confirmed In South Africa: Here Is What You Need To Know About The Disease

Monkeypox Confirmed In South Africa: Here Is What You Need To Know About The Disease

Symptoms of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand, from a 2003 case in the United States. In most instances, the disease causes fever and painful, pus-filled blisters. New cases in the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal are spreading possibly through sexual contact, which had not previously been linked to monkeypox transmission.
[Photo: CDC/Getty Images]


South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has confirmed the first case of Monkeypox in the country.

The NICD, a division of the National Health Laboratory Service confirmed the case on Wednesday, 22 June 2022. The case involves a 30-year-old male residing in the Gauteng province.

However, the man reports no recent travel history. According to the NICD, contact tracing has commenced, identifying any additional linked cases of monkeypox in South Africa.

Here is what you need to know about the Monkeypox virus which was just confirmed in South Africa.


Monkeypox Confirmed In South Africa: Here Is What You Need To Know About The Disease
Monkeypox virus particle [IMAGE SOURCE: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY]



What is Monkeypox?


Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that belongs to the family of poxviruses, which includes smallpox. The disease is usually associated with travel to West Africa. 

There are two main variants – the Congo strain, which is more severe and kills around 10 per cent of people it strikes, and the milder West African strain, which has a fatality rate of about 1 per cent.


Where Does The Name Come From?


The disease got its name after scientists discovered it among laboratory monkeys in 1958.

The first monkeypox case in a human was diagnosed in 1970 in the Democratic Republic Of Congo. Human cases were recorded for the first time in the US in 2003 and in the UK in September 2018.


How Do You Get Monkeypox?


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can catch monkeypox through direct contact with infected animals, such as handling monkeys or eating inadequately cooked meat. 

The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, eyes, nose or mouth.

The virus is transmitted via respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact or bodily fluids.

Many of the newly identified cases in Europe are among men who have sex with men, but monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted infection.


Monkeypox Confirmed In South Africa: Here Is What You Need To Know About The Disease
Photo: WHO/Nigeria Centre for Disease Control



What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Monkeypox?


If you get infected with monkeypox, it usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear. These include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and fatigue.

The most obvious symptom is a rash, which usually appears on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. This then forms skin lesions that scab and fall off.

Monkeypox is usually mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks without treatment. 

However, the disease can be more severe and even fatal, especially in young children, pregnant women, and people who have weakened immune systems.


Is There A Treatment For The Monkeypox Virus?


According to the CDC, at this time, there are no specific treatments available for monkeypox, but monkeypox outbreaks can be controlled.

However, because the monkeypox virus is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, the smallpox vaccine can also protect people from getting monkeypox.

Data from Africa suggests that the smallpox vaccine is at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.


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