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South Africa Reports Second mpox Death, Total Cases Rise to Six

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A second person has died from mpox in South Africa, the health ministry announced on Thursday, just a day after reporting the country’s first death from the viral infection.

The latest fatality was a 38-year-old man who was admitted to a hospital in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) with symptoms including extensive lesions, headache, fatigue, oral ulcers, muscle pain, and a sore throat. He tested positive for mpox on Wednesday and sadly passed away the same day.

The total number of laboratory-confirmed mpox cases in South Africa now stands at six, with two deaths reported in the past five weeks.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced the first death on Wednesday, along with four other infections. He emphasized that one death is too many, especially from a preventable and manageable disease, and urged those with suspected symptoms to seek medical attention and help trace contacts.

All six cases were recorded in men in their 30s, and their conditions were classified as severe. The health minister stated that the intention is to obtain a stockpile of the antiviral drug Tecovirimat for rapid deployment in case the current situation leads to a wider outbreak.

Mpox, previously known as monkeypox, is a viral illness transmitted through close contact with infected humans or animals and via contaminated materials. The disease causes painful and scarring lesions, principally on the face, anus, and genitals. Common symptoms include a skin rash, fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared mpox a global health emergency in July 2022, which lasted for 10 months. According to the WHO, there were over 97,000 cases and 186 deaths reported across 117 countries in the first four months of 2024.

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