A 37-year-old man died as a result of the disease, the country’s health minister announced © angelp / Getty Images

A man has died in South Africa from monkeypox virus (Mpox), the country’s health minister, Joe Phaahla, announced on Wednesday. A total of five laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease have been reported in the country.

Phaahla stated that three of the five men in their thirties who contracted the virus were from KwaZulu-Natal Province and the other two were from Gauteng Province. The man who died was 37 years old; he passed away on Monday in Tembisa Hospital, Johannesburg. Two others remain hospitalized; the other two have been discharged.

“All five cases were classified as severe cases as per the World Health Organization (WHO) definition, requiring hospitalization,” the minister said. “The cases have co-morbidities and have been identified as key populations, Men who have Sex with Men (MSM),” he added.

Mpox can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with an infected person, contaminated materials, or infected animals. Symptoms include an unexplained acute rash, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, sudden fever, headache, muscle and body aches, and low energy.

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The virus was first identified in macaque monkeys in the late 1950s. Human monkeypox received its name in the 1970s, long before the WHO released its ‘best practices in naming diseases’ guidebook in 2015.

According to the WHO, the first human case was reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Zaire) in 1970, where the disease remains endemic.

There were 97,208 laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox across 117 countries between January 1, 2022 and May 31, 2024, according to the WHO, resulting in 186 deaths. South Africa recorded five cases of Mpox in 2022, with no cases reported in 2023.

The South African health minister highlighted that the country’s goal is to secure a stockpile of the antiviral drug Tecovirimat for quick deployment if the current situation escalates into a wider outbreak. (RT)