Everything you need to know about Mpox disease

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Presidency announces Opening of Parliament date
June 28, 2024

Everything you need to know about Mpox disease

"🔬✨ Discover everything you need to know about Mpox disease — from symptoms to treatments and prevention strategies. Stay informed, stay safe! #MpoxDisease #HealthAwareness"

Thursday, June 27, 2024

As the number of Mpox cases continues to rise, the Department of Health has urged everyone with symptoms to immediately visit their nearest healthcare facilities for help. 

This week, this department announced that the country recorded three more infections and one death.

The latest figure pushes the total infections to 16 and three deaths since the first case was reported last month.

Of the 16 infections, eight are from KwaZulu-Natal, seven are from Gauteng, and one is from the Western Cape.

All individuals involved in the cases are male and aged between 23 and 43 years old.

What is Mpox?

Mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. 

It can be transmitted to a person through contact with the virus from an animal, human, or materials contaminated with the virus.

Person-to-person transmission of the virus could be through close contact, which can be via prolonged face-to-face contact, kissing, sharing clothes or bedding with someone who is infected.

Entry of the virus is through broken skin, the respiratory tract, or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a person is contagious from the onset of the rash or lesions through the scab stage. However, once all scabs have fallen off, a person is no longer contagious.

Mpox is preventable and manageable, and treatment for both mild and severe cases is available. People at high risk include those living with chronic conditions such as HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and diabetes.

Anyone can contract the disease regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation and race.

Most people with Mpox will recover within two to four weeks.

Symptoms

Symptoms of the disease include fever and headache.

Other symptoms are:

  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • chills
  • exhaustion
  • swelling of lymph nodes as well as
  • skin lesions or rash that usually develops between one to three days and spread all over the body.

Diagnosis

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), identifying Mpox can be difficult as other infections and conditions can look similar.

However, the WHO said it was crucial to differentiate Mpox from chickenpox, measles, bacterial skin infections, scabies, herpes, syphilis, other sexually transmissible infections, and medication-associated allergies.

Mpox’s rash begins as a flat sore, which develops into a blister, filled with liquid and may be itchy or painful.

In addition, the agency said that people with the disease may also have another sexually transmissible infection such as herpes, while a child with a suspected infection may also have chickenpox. It is for this reason that the WHO believes testing is key for people to get treatment as early as possible and prevent the further spread.

Self-care and prevention

The WHO is recommending steps to take to help the symptoms and prevent infecting others. These are:

  • Stay at home and in your room if possible.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or hand sanitiser, especially before or after touching sores.
  • Wear a mask and cover lesions when around other people until your rash heals.
  • Keep skin dry and uncovered unless in a room with someone else.
  • Avoid touching items in shared spaces and disinfect shared spaces frequently.
  • Use saltwater rinses for sores in the mouth.
  • Take sitz baths or warm baths with baking soda or Epsom salts for body sores.
  • Take over-the-counter medications for pain like paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Department of Health’s response

The department, working with provinces and other stakeholders in the sector, has embarked on health education with funeral parlours on how to handle the human remains of suspected and confirmed cases.

It has also urged travellers from Mpox endemic countries to seek healthcare if they are ill and to alert health officials about their travel for clinical guidance.

Citizens are also encouraged to support all those who are showing symptoms to present at their nearest healthcare facilities immediately for screening and diagnosis, instead of self-diagnosis and using over-the-counter medication.

Last week, the department said it has received a batch of Mpox-specific treatment, Tecovirimat – also known as TPOXX or ST-246, for the treatment of patients who experience severe health complications because of Mpox disease.

The department said it is in the process of securing more treatment, including vaccines.

However, according to the department, all mild cases will continue to be managed with supportive treatment used to manage complications like fever, pneumonia and skin infections.

“🔬✨ Discover everything you need to know about Mpox disease — from symptoms to treatments and prevention strategies. Stay informed, stay safe! #MpoxDisease #HealthAwareness”