(Bloomberg) -- South Africa received its first batch of antiviral drugs to treat mpox as the number of cases almost doubled.

Tecovirimat will be used to treat patients who have severe health complications while those mild cases will continue to be managed with supportive treatment, the Department of Health said in a statement on Thursday.

The country has detected six more laboratory-confirmed cases of mpox bringing the total number to 13, the department said. The eastern KwaZulu-Natal province has seven cases, the commercial hub of Gauteng five and the Western Cape one, it said.

A cousin of the smallpox virus, mpox has for years been mostly confined to developing countries, though it spread across Europe and the US in 2022. 

A large proportion of cases globally have been among men who’ve had sex with other men, and many have occurred within sexual networks, though anyone can contract the disease. There is particular risk for those who also have untreated HIV infections.

The pathogen typically causes flu-like symptoms, followed by a rash that frequently starts on the face and spreads down the body. The illness often lasts for two weeks to a month. 

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