Saturday, July 20, 2024


BMA health inspectors geared for mpox screening

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South Africa’s Border Management Authority (BMA) has “developed an outbreak preparedness plan” to deal with a potential outbreak and possible epidemic of mpox, previously known as monkeypox.

With, as of earlier today (Wednesday, 26 June) three deaths and 16 laboratory confirmed cases, BMA Commissioner Mike Masiapato has, according to SANews, “activated” the plan.

It involves a screening process for travellers entering South Africa at all its ports of entry – 72 across air, land and sea.

Thermal screening for temperature checks are being done on travellers entering via airports, harbours and land. Those coming into South Africa by air should ahead of landing been screened by the aircraft operator as part of a normal declaration of health. This is, according to the BMA, an international health requirement.

Should a traveller, explains, present with an elevated temperature, he or she will be isolated and “assisted with further screening”. This includes interviews to establish experiencing other symptoms. The BMA Port health officer will also conduct own general and non-invasive observation of the traveller under investigation.

“BMA Port Health officers are well trained to be vigilant to observe for any lesions and other symptoms during their operations at ports [of entry]. In any incident, should there be a case presented to the BMA that would need further referral to a health facility, arrangements have been made with ambulance services from the Department of Health for referral to healthcare facilities.  We are also in close collaboration with communicable disease facilities in the districts in order to respond swiftly and ensure immediate reporting of any suspected traveller that meets the mpox disease symptom profile. BMA port health officials have also elevated the focus to be on health education and awareness to travellers. At this stage there have been no incidents of mpox suspicions detected in ports of entry thus far,” Commissioner Masiapato is reported as saying.

Open source information has it mpox is a viral infection that spreads through close contact, causing flu-like symptoms and pus-filled lesions. Most cases are mild but the virus can kill. Despite originally named monkeypox, the source of the disease remains unknown. Scientists suspect African rodents and primates might harbour the virus. The first human mpox case was recorded in what is now Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire, in 1970.



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