While the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness has confirmed the first cases of monkeypox in the province, they said there was no need to panic.
After the first case was detected by laboratory testing on Monday June 27, the department said the disease was being monitored by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).
Local cases were being followed up by local contact tracing teams and that the linkages and sources of the cases are being investigated in association with the NICD which are in line with International Health Regulations.
It said the department was ready to respond to any more possible cases and members of the public who experience symptoms similar to monkeypox are urged to report to their nearest healthcare facility or health worker for diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, chills and exhaustion. This is followed by skin lesions or a blister-like rash – often on the face, feet and/or hands.
The department said there was no need for public panic as monkeypox was not highly contagious nor easily transferable and that it needed close contact to be transferred.
Standard hygiene practices are effective in preventing infection. The rash usually begins within one to three days of the start of a fever, and is most prevalent on the face, palms and soles of the feet. It can also be found on the mouth, genitals and eyes.
Symptoms typically last between two to four weeks and go away on their own without treatment; however, infants, children, pregnant women and those with comorbidities or immunity problems may be at risk of more serious disease.
Patricia Van der Ross, Mayco member for community services and health said the news of the first couple of cases would no doubt cause some concern and anxiety for residents but said it was important to note that due to the low risk of transmission, a widespread outbreak of monkeypox was highly unlikely.
“City Health will do everything possible to help mitigate the impact of the virus. Our health response was severely tested during the Covid-19 pandemic, and I think the experiences will be extremely valuable in managing any future disease outbreaks.”
She advised the public that health is a shared responsibility: “Please do ensure that you are alert to the signs and symptoms of monkeypox, and that you help create awareness within your family and community, without fear-mongering or judgement, and to steer clear of spreading fake news. If you are unsure about what to do, seek advice at your nearest clinic or private health service provider.”