South Africa confirms first monkeypox case


This rare smallpox-related virus causes flu-like symptoms and a nasty rash, and it can be deadly.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

South Africa's Health ministry has confirmed the first case of monkeypox in the country.

The patient is a 30-year-old male from Johannesburg who had no travel history.

According to the country’s Health minister, Joe Phaahla, contact tracing is already underway.

"Late yesterday, I received a report from the national health lab service indicating that they have confirmed a lab test of the first case of monkeypox in SA. The patient is a 30-year-old male from Johannesburg who has no travel history – meaning it cannot be attributed to the disease having been acquired elsewhere, so it means that it is with us. So, working with the relevant health authorities, the process of tracing the close contacts of this gentleman has started," Phaahla said.

As of June, the World Health Organization (WHO) said seven African countries had reported 44 confirmed cases and 1,392 suspected cases cumulatively.

The seven countries are Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone, the WHO regional office for Africa said in a statement.

Monkeypox was first detected in humans in 1970 in the African region. Since then, most cases have been reported in rural and rainforest areas.

In 2017, there was a sudden spike, with more than 2,800 suspected cases reported in five countries.

This surge peaked in 2020, with more than 6,300 suspected cases. DR Congo accounted for 95 per cent of the total. The numbers then dropped in 2021 to around 3,200 suspected cases.

The recent monkeypox outbreak was reported on May 7, when an individual who had returned to England from Nigeria was confirmed as the first European case.

Since May 2022, monkeypox has been reported in more than 3 000 individuals from several European countries, the USA, Canada, Australia, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

Person-to-person transmission involves close contact (for example kissing, cuddling and sex) with an infected person or materials that an infected person has contaminated (for example, sharing linen, clothes and other household items).

The virus is not highly transmissible, unlike influenza or the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Monkeypox presents with an acute illness characterised by fever and general flu-like symptoms, followed by the eruption of a blister-like rash on the skin.

It is usually mild and self-limiting, with a fatality rate of one per cent, and cases resolve within two to four weeks. Most cases do not require hospital treatment.

Prevention of infection hinges on the isolation of cases until they fully recover. The risk to the general population is considered low, given the low transmissibility of the virus.

At the beginning of June, Kenya took samples suspected to have monkeypox to Senegal for testing and further investigation.

The samples were flown to Senegal since the country's testing capacity is limited, given the rarity of the disease.


You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.