South Africa's Second Monkeypox Death Confirmed: Health Officials Urge Vigilance

South Africa's Second Monkeypox Death Confirmed: Health Officials Urge Vigilance

South Africa Confirms Second Monkeypox Death Amid Rising Cases

South Africa is in the throes of a public health challenge, having officially registered its second death attributed to monkeypox (Mpox). The announcement came from Dr. Joe Phaahla, the nation's Health Minister, who confirmed the passing of a 38-year-old man living with HIV from Brakpan, Gauteng. This unfortunate event underscores the rising concerns surrounding the disease, especially among immunocompromised individuals.

The patient, whose symptoms included extensive lesions, lymphadenopathy, headache, fatigue, oral ulcers, muscle pain, and a sore throat, was admitted to a hospital in uMgungundlovu, KwaZulu-Natal. Tragically, he succumbed to the illness the same day he was diagnosed. This recent fatality brings the total number of confirmed monkeypox cases in South Africa to six, with two deaths occurring within the last five weeks alone.

The Scope of the Monkeypox Outbreak

The first three cases in South Africa were identified to be of the same clade, specifically clade II b. This clade is linked to the sub-lineage that caused the multi-country outbreak in 2022, which affected over 100 countries. The global spread of this virus has made it imperative for health authorities worldwide to buckle down on preventive and management measures to curb its proliferation.

As the monkeypox virus continues its grim march across national and international borders, the call for vigilance has never been louder. Health Minister Phaahla emphasized that maintaining personal hygiene, ensuring early diagnosis, and implementing effective treatment are essential to controlling the disease.

Guidelines and Preventive Measures

Minister Phaahla has urged the public to take several preventive measures to avoid contracting and spreading monkeypox. Key among these is avoiding physical contact with individuals known to have the disease. Those diagnosed are advised to isolate themselves from immunocompromised people, children, and pregnant women to prevent transmission of the virus. Furthermore, the importance of hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette cannot be overstated.

  • Hand Hygiene: Regularly wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Respiratory Etiquette: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of the tissue properly and wash hands immediately.
  • Isolation: If diagnosed, stay isolated from others, especially those with weakened immune systems, children, and pregnant women.
  • Avoiding Physical Contact: Steer clear of touching rashes or scabs of an infected person.

Efforts are underway to bolster the healthcare system's response to this public health crisis. The national Department of Health is working in tandem with health departments in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal to investigate the cases and implement strategic measures to prevent further spread. Resources and guidelines have been disseminated to ensure that local healthcare practitioners are well-prepared to handle new cases effectively.

Public Response and Future Outlook

The public’s reaction has been a mix of concern and cautious compliance with the recommended guidelines. While some South Africans are meticulously following the health directives, there remains a fraction of the population that is less vigilant, underscoring the need for ongoing public awareness campaigns. Phaahla's recent briefings have highlighted that the efforts to combat monkeypox will not be successful without the collective action of the community.

The increasing number of cases has also prompted a re-evaluation of current healthcare strategies. Authorities are considering the introduction of vaccination campaigns, especially targeting high-risk groups, to prevent the spread among vulnerable populations. Given the current trajectory, there is a pressing need for all stakeholders, from government bodies to private health sectors and the general populace, to band together in combating this alarming health threat.

Understanding Monkeypox

Monkeypox, a viral zoonosis, presents symptoms remarkably similar to those eradicated by smallpox. However, despite the visual similarities, monkeypox is, at present, less transmissible. The virus finds its roots in wild animals but can make the leap to humans, explaining its zoonotic nature. Human-to-human transmission occurs primarily through direct contact with an infected person's lesions, respiratory droplets, and bodily fluids or indirectly through contact with contaminated materials.

The incubation period for monkeypox typically ranges from 5 to 21 days, presenting a challenge for containment efforts. Symptoms first manifest as fever, intensive headache, and swollen lymph nodes. Muscle pain and profound fatigue often follow these early signs. A rash, which progressively covers various parts of the body, generally appears 1 to 3 days post the initial onset of fever, transforming from macules to papules, vesicles, and finally to crusted scabs.

The Broader Impact on Society

The resurgence of monkeypox has far-reaching implications, affecting not only public health but also societal dynamics and the economy. The potential for healthcare systems to become overwhelmed cannot be ignored, particularly in regions already battling multiple health challenges. Efforts to contain the virus have led to increased expenditure on healthcare services, public sensitization, and the acquisition of medical supplies.

Beyond the immediate health concerns, there are economic repercussions as well. Interruptions in workforce productivity, increased medical leave, and heightened healthcare costs have cascading effects on national economies. South Africa, a country with diverse socio-economic challenges, thus finds itself grappling with yet another obstacle.

Nevertheless, the resilience of the South African spirit shines through. Communities, health workers, and government bodies are rallying together, reaffirming their commitment to overcoming this crisis. The emphasis on community health and shared responsibility serves as a testament to the collective will to combat this disease.


As South Africa navigates through the complexities of this monkeypox outbreak, individual vigilance coupled with robust public health measures becomes paramount. The second death underscores the urgency of the situation and the dire need for adherence to health guidelines. By fostering a culture of precaution and supporting healthcare initiatives, there's a collective hope that the tide will turn, paving the way for a healthier future.

Written by Griffin Talsorian

I am a seasoned journalist specializing in daily news coverage with a focus on the African continent. I currently work for a major news outlet in Cape Town, where I produce in-depth news analysis and feature pieces. I am passionate about uncovering the truth and presenting it to the public in the most understandable way.