New case of monkeypox in Sydney man returning from Europe

nsw health kerry chant monkeypox europe nsw sydney queensland
Images: YouTube, Pexels, CDC

​NSW Health has identified the state’s third case of monkeypox in a resident who recently returned to Sydney from Europe.

The rare virus, which does not spread easily, is endemic to regions of Africa. However since mid-May, over 640 cases have emerged in two dozen non-endemic countries, predominantly in Europe.

NSW Health said on Friday the man in his 50s developed a mild illness several days after arriving back in Sydney from Europe.

He presented to his GP with symptoms compatible with monkeypox. He was later confirmed as the state’s third case of the virus. The man is currently isolating at home.

NSW Health said they were contact tracing and providing advice to any contacts identified.

The case isn’t connected to the two previously reported cases in NSW, the first on May 20 and the second on Thursday (June 2).

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant praised the clinicians who identified the symptoms of a virus that until recently had never been found in the state.

“A local GP has once again identified the signs of this virus,” she said.

“We thank them, and their colleagues, for staying up to date with the latest clinical information to provide care to their patients.”

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

Then a rash can develop, often with itchy or painful lesions. The rash often begins on the face before spreading to other parts of the body.

A notable symptom of the international outbreaks is that the rash may first appear in the genital area, NSW Health advised.

The monkeypox virus is usually mild and most people recover within a few weeks without the need for treatment.

Gay and bi men urged to be vigilant

Many cases in the international outbreaks are in gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men, however the virus can be transmitted to anyone.

Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection, and does not spread easily.

However people can transmit it during prolonged close contact during sex, or through others’ contact with their clothing or linens.

This week, NSW LGBTIQ health organisation ACON urged men who have sex with men to be vigilant for symptoms.

“It’s important we stay informed and continue to be self-aware when it comes to our health,” CEO Nicholas Parkhill said.

“We know people in our communities already have strong health-seeking behaviour when it comes to looking after their sexual health.

“Please continue to monitor for symptoms, including for any unusual rashes or lesions.”

Anyone with symptoms, particularly an unusual rash, should call their GP or local sexual health clinic by phone or telehealth.

Those with symptoms who’ve recently returned from overseas after attending dance parties, sex parties or saunas, especially in Europe, should seek medical advice immediately.

Man may have contracted monkeypox in Queensland

NSW Health earlier advised the man diagnosed on Thursday had not travelled internationally, but had returned from Queensland.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath has said the man had visited the Whitsunday region. She advised Queensland clinicians there to watch for possible symptoms.

ACON has also urged people to keep contact details of their sexual contacts, particularly at the present time.

“In the context [of] what we’re seeing overseas and what that might mean for our communities in Australia, it’s really important that the people we hook up with can be reached,” he said.

“This will assist with contact tracing efforts so outbreaks can be minimised and managed.”

Parkhill said because the man had not travelled overseas, it raised the possibility of community transmission within Australia.

“The situation is evolving and being able to reach your sexual contacts should the need arise will help stop the spread,” he said.

ACON has published further information on monkeypox for LGBTIQ+ communities at the website.

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