NSW Health confirms new monkeypox case after Queensland travel

nsw health kerry chant monkeypox nsw case
Images: NSW Health, Supplied

A man in New South Wales has become the second person in the state to be diagnosed with monkeypox after recently returning from Queensland.

The virus is endemic in parts of Africa. But in May, over 300 cases have emerged in two dozen other countries, predominantly in Europe.

The NSW man, in his 50s, developed a mild illness several days after arriving back in Sydney from Queensland, NSW Health said.

“He subsequently presented to his GP and then hospital with symptoms clinically compatible with monkeypox,” a spokesperson said.

“Urgent testing is consistent with monkeypox, the second case in NSW.”

The man is currently receiving care in hospital. He lives alone and no high-risk close contacts needed to isolate.

“Several people who had other lower level contact with the case are being contacted to advise to monitor for symptoms,” NSW Health said.

The case is not connected to the first case reported in New South Wales on May 20. Authorities in Victoria also confirmed a case around the same time.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the rare virus does not spread easily. She said NSW Health is working with Queensland Health to find potential transmission incidents.

“NSW Health is providing further information to clinicians across the state today to assist with the identification and management of potential monkeypox cases,” Dr Chant said.

Gay and bi men urged to be alert to monkeypox symptoms

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 new outbreak is that the rash may first appear in the genital area, NSW Health advises.

Among the cases in the international outbreak, many are gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men.

But health authorities have warned against stigma and stressed the disease can be transmitted to anyone.

Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection. However people can transmit it during prolonged close contact during sex, or through others’ contact with their clothing or linens.

Keep contact details of sexual partners

NSW LGBTIQ health organisation ACON urged Australian gay, bisexual and 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 that 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 a rash, should call their GP or local sexual health clinic by phone or telehealth.

Parkhill also urged people to keep contact details of sexual contacts, particularly at this 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.

“The man had not traveled internationally. [This] suggests there may be community transmission in Australia.

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

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