Monkeypox arrives in Australia from infected traveller

·3-min read

A probable case of Monkeypox has been identified in Australia.

NSW Health revealed on Friday that the virus was likely found in a man in his 40s who had recently returned from a trip to Europe.

He developed a mild illness several days after arriving back in Sydney.

"He subsequently presented to his GP with symptoms clinically compatible with monkeypox," NSW Health said in an alert.

"Urgent testing was carried out which has today identified a probable case of monkeypox, with confirmatory testing underway."

The man and his household contact are isolating at home.

Symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus. Source: Getty
NSW Health says Monkeypox has likely been found in a man in his 40s who had recently returned to Sydney. Source: Getty

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection similar to human smallpox, and mostly occurs in west and central Africa.

Symptoms include fever, headaches and a distinctive bumpy skin rash starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body.

Although it is typically transmitted among animals, it can also travel from person to person through air droplets, close bodily contact or sharing contaminated objects.

Cases of monkeypox have been identified in several countries in recent weeks, including the UK, US and parts of Europe.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the virus is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people.

Health officer uses a thermal head to detect a monkeypox virus on arriving passengers at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang near Jakarta. Source: Getty
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection similar to human smallpox, and mostly occurs in west and central Africa. Source: Getty

“Cases are occasionally reported in non-endemic countries in returning travellers or their close contacts, or in owners of imported pets. People can contract monkeypox through very close contact with people who are infected with the virus,” Dr Chant said.

“The infection is usually a mild illness and most people recover within a few weeks.”

She said NSW Health has taken steps to ensure it identifies and manages any potential cases.

“NSW Health has issued a clinician alert to GPs and hospitals across the state and has also been in contact with sexual health services to increase awareness of the cases identified overseas and to provide advice on diagnosis and referral. We will be speaking with GPs about this issue again today,” Dr Chant said.

Victoria's deputy chief health officer Deborah Friedman said clinicians should consider testing for monkeypox in returned travellers with compatible symptoms.

Doctor vows to leave medicine if virus spreads

The news comes after a US doctor vowed to leave medicine if Monkeypox spreads worldwide, saying they won't be "exposed" to a lethal disease.

"If monkeypox spreads, I think I’m leaving medicine. I’m not exposing myself to a disease with 10% mortality because this country of selfish f***s refuses to mask or get vaccines when they’re available," the physician from Missouri, who goes by the Twitter handle Jaferdian, M.D. tweeted.

There are two main strains of Monkeypox — the West African strain, which has a fatality rate of around 1 per cent, and the Congo strain, which is more severe with up to 10 per cent mortality.

With AAP/Reuters

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