NSW Health warns of likely local transmission of monkeypox

nsw health jeremy mcanulty monkeypox new south wales transmission
Images: NSW Health, CDC

NSW Health has issued a warning for people to be on the lookout for monkeypox symptoms after 11 confirmed cases in the state, including two possible cases of local transmission.

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

However, several countries that are not endemic for the virus have reported over 5000 cases this year, predominantly in European countries and also the United States.

Many of the cases are men who have sex with men, but the WHO has warned against stigma and stressed the virus can transmit to anyone.

As well as the 11 cases in New South Wales, Victoria has reported five and South Australia one. Most are in returned overseas travellers.

But NSW Health said on Wednesday they believe this was the case for nine cases. But authorities believe two cases may have been acquired in Australia.

NSW Health Executive Director of Health Protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty said 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,” he said.

“So far, in the cases we have seen in NSW, monkeypox is not presenting the way some people 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.

“Most of our cases to date have presented to sexual health clinics, rather than GPs.”

Most people recover from monkeypox within weeks

Dr McAnulty instructed people with any of these symptoms to immediately phone their GP or sexual health service for an appointment.

They should tell them of their symptoms and make sure they wear a mask as a precaution when attending.

NSW Health said symptoms begin seven to 14 days after exposure and most people recover within weeks.

“The virus mainly spreads through skin to skin contact with the lesions,” Dr McAnulty said.

“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. Condoms are not effective at preventing the transmission of monkeypox.”

Last month, a US man who caught monkeypox in the United States has documented his experience in a viral TikTok.

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