Fears monkeypox is spreading in Australia: 'Be aware'

·News Reporter
·3-min read

New South Wales has recorded its eleventh monkeypox case since the outbreak reached Australia with fears the virus is now being transmitted locally.

While nine cases are likely to have been acquired overseas, it's likely two may have been acquired in Australia, with health officials warning residents to be vigilant.

More than 1600 cases of the viral disease have now been reported by 39 countries, with Europe at the epicentre.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed it’s looking into whether the disease could be sexually transmitted after the virus was found in the semen of patients.

Monkeypox symptoms
Monkeypox symptoms include fever, headache, body aches and a rash or lesions, specifically on the genital area. Source: Getty

NSW Health’s Executive Director of Health Protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty said people need to be on alert for monkeypox symptoms now local transmission may be occurring, especially among men who have sex with men.

"People need to be aware of the symptoms of monkeypox, which can include fever, headache, body aches and a rash or lesions on the genital area," Dr McAnulty said.

But he warned that NSW cases so far have not presented the same way people would expect, such as an extensive rash or lesions all over the body.

“It could just be a couple of what seem to be pimples in the genital area or buttocks, so people need to pay careful attention to any potential symptoms," he said.

Cases rising in Australia

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection previously associated with travel to Central and West Africa.

However, thousands of cases of monkeypox have been reported from several countries that are not endemic for the virus this year, including several European countries and the United States. Many of the cases are men who have sex with men.

NSW Health’s Executive Director of Health Protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty said people need to be on alert for monkeypox symptoms. Source: Getty
NSW Health’s Executive Director of Health Protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty said people need to be on alert for monkeypox symptoms. Source: Getty

"Most of our cases to date have presented to sexual health clinics, rather than GPs," Dr McAnulty said.

"The virus is mainly spread through skin to skin contact with the lesions or rarely through close contact with large respiratory droplets from a person early on in their infection.

"It is important that people with symptoms avoid close contact with others, including sexual activity, as condoms are not effective at preventing the transmission of monkeypox."

Those showing symptoms are advised to wear a mask as a precaution and contact a GP or sexual health advisor immediately.

Symptoms usually begin seven to 14 days after exposure and most people recover within a few weeks, according to NSW Health.

Last week, South Australia reported its first case of monkeypox. Victoria has also seen as many as five cases.

While Western Australia had its first brush with monkeypox last month after an infected person spent four days roaming around Perth before they flew back to the UK where they were diagnosed three days later.

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