Monkeypox has officially reached South Africa - here's everything you need to know about the virus

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A passenger from Singapore gets a body temperature check at an airport in Indonesia on May 2019 after Singapore announced it had detected the first case of monkeypox in the country. SA this week detected its first positive case, according to the NICD.
A passenger from Singapore gets a body temperature check at an airport in Indonesia on May 2019 after Singapore announced it had detected the first case of monkeypox in the country. SA this week detected its first positive case, according to the NICD.
Andrew Gal/NurPhoto/Getty Images

If it's not one thing, it's another. Just as South Africans were starting to relax as Covid-19 infections started slowing down, the health ministry dropped a bomb - the first case of monkeybox had been detected in the country.  

When the first case of this new outbreak was reported in Europe, South Africans weren't overly concerned. It seemed a bit far and they were still dealing with Covid-19 regulations. 

Now it's here. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed a case of monkeypox involving a 30 year-old man residing in Gauteng. Contact tracing is now in progress 

The first case in South Africa was identified through laboratory testing at the NICD on Wednesday, 22 June 2022, and according to reports, the now isolated man has not travelled anywhere recently.

Read more | Nurse urges parents to make sure kids vaccinated as City of Tshwane, Gauteng warn of measles outbreak

Health professionals have called for South Africans to remain calm because unlike the Covid-19 virus, monkeypox isn’t deadly.

According to Health Minister Joe Phaahla the NICD is conducting online, in-service training for health workers to be able to detect the disease.  

WHAT IS MONKEYPOX?

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection in humans resulting from infection with the monkeypox virus, part of the same virus family as smallpox.

HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?

Monkeypox is not highly transmissible and close physical contact is required for one to be infected as it spreads through close droplets.

Person-to-person transmission involves close contact such as kissing, cuddling, and sexual contact with an infected person or materials that have been contaminated by an infected person for example sharing linen, clothes and other household items.

According to the health minister, so far, monkeypox has been dominant in men who have sex with men.

Read more | Major surgeries, physical changes and stares - life through the eyes of a rare disease sufferer

SYMPTOMS OF MONKEYPOX

* Fever
* Headache
* Muscle aches and backache
* Swollen lymph nodes
* Chills
* Exhaustion

Sometimes people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET MONKEYPOX?

It’s visually spotted by a blister-like rash, but the virus also presents itself with an acute illness characterized by fever and general flu-like symptoms, then followed by the eruption of a blister-like rash on the skin.

The disease is rarely fatal and cases typically resolve within two to four weeks. Most cases do not require hospital treatment but prevention of infection includes the isolation of cases until fully recovered. The risk to the general population is considered low, given the relatively low transmission rates of the virus. 

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