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Mpox in South Africa

20 Jun 2024

The Department of Health in South Africa reports a continuing outbreak of mpox in several parts of the country.

Since May 2024, there have been 16 mpox cases, including 3 deaths. Eight cases have been reported in KwaZulu-Natal, 7 in Gauteng, and 1 in Western Cape. The most recent cases have been reported from Ladysmith (23 June 2024), Johannesburg (22 June 2024) and Mamelodi (21 June 2024).

All of the cases are men aged 23 to 43.

Mpox, due to the mpox virus, occurs mainly in Central and West Africa but outbreaks may occur elsewhere. Transmission between people occurs through close skin to skin contact (including during sexual contact), or through droplet spread during close contact with a person infected with mpox. Infection also results from touching or eating infected animals, primarily rodents (rats, mice and squirrels) and monkeys.

Advice to Travellers

If you are travelling to countries where mpox is present you should:

  • practise careful hand hygiene if you are visiting or caring for ill friends and relatives
  • avoid contact with monkeys and rodents (rats, mice and squirrels) and avoid eating undercooked meat from these animals
  • wear protective clothing, including gloves, if you are involved in the slaughter or care of animals in these regions

If you are travelling to any destination and will be sexually active during travel (including GBMSM) you should:

  • be aware of the risk of mpox
  • practise safe sex 
  • avoid close, including sexual contact, with someone who is unwell and may have mpox.

Seek medical advice during or for 21 days after travelling if you develop symptoms of mpox and have had close contact with someone who may have mpox, or have returned from South Africa

  • make sure you are checked for malaria if you are returning from South Africa with a fever or flu-like illness

While a vaccine specifically against mpox is not available, the smallpox vaccine provides some protection.

  • for information about the vaccine, see NHS inform (Scotland) and NHS.UK (rest of UK)

For further information on the disease and how you can protect yourself, see the MpoxSexual Health Risks and LGBT travellers pages.