Maseru health authorities warn about possible monkeypox spillover from SA


MASERU – Although there are no confirmed cases of Mpox (monkeypox) yet, the Maseru District Health Management Team (DHMT) has recommended vigilance to prevent its spread among Basotho.

The team is concerned about signs of infection among Basotho residents who have travelled from KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in South Africa.

Mpox (monkeypox) is a viral infection that can spread between people and occasionally from the environment to people through contaminated objects and surfaces.

In areas where the monkeypox virus is present among wild animals, it can also be transmitted from infected animals to humans through direct contact.

District Medical Officer, Dr. Moseme Makhele, has urged the public to take precautions and avoid close physical contact with individuals and animals suspected of having monkeypox.

He advised people to seek medical attention as soon as they experience symptoms of monkeypox, including fever, severe headache, muscle pain, mouth lesions and rash.

Dr. Makhele said since January 2022, the world has seen a rise in monkeypox cases, with 8,479 cases reported.

He added that monkeypox is most commonly transmitted through sexual contact, particularly among men who have sex with men and individuals with multiple sexual partners.

To reduce the risk of infection, Dr. Makhele advised the public to wear masks, wash hands with soap and running water, and use hand sanitiser.

“We are already working hard to raise awareness so that Basotho know the best practices to stay updated and safe from this disease,” he added.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), people with monkeypox are considered infectious until all their lesions have crusted over, the scabs have fallen off, a new layer of skin has formed underneath, and all lesions on the eyes and in the body have healed, typically taking two to four weeks.

WHO also indicates that the monkeypox virus can persist on clothing, bedding, towels, and other objects and surfaces touched by an infected person.

People who come into contact with these items may become infected, especially if they have cuts or touch their eyes, nose, mouth, or other mucous membranes without washing their hands.

“Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces or objects and cleaning your hands after touching potentially contaminated items can help prevent this type of transmission,” WHO added.

Healthcare workers are advised to follow infection prevention and control measures to protect themselves while caring for patients with monkeypoox.

This includes wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, adhering to protocols for safely swabbing lesions for diagnostic testing, and handling sharp objects such as needles.

Evidence suggests that immunosuppressed individuals are at higher risk of developing severe monkeypox.

Severe monkeypox cases in some countries highlight the urgent need to increase equitable access to monkeypox vaccines and therapeutics, as well as HIV prevention, testing, and treatment.