Queensland CHO says no cause for alarm over monkeypox


queensland health monkeypox world health organisation acting chief health officer cho dr peter aitken
Image: 7News

Queensland health authorities have said there is no need to be alarmed about rising monkeypox infections overseas.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said while the World Health Organisation declared the virus a global health emergency at the weekend, there was “no cause for alarm here in Queensland”.

Queensland Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Peter Aitken said on Sunday the WHO’s declaration should be seen as a precaution.

“It was a sensible and precautionary move to make sure the international community is aware,” he said.

“Because it enhances the ability to provide surveillance so we can keep track of monkeypox.

“It’s not something to be concerned about within Queensland.

“There is only that one case in Queensland at the current stage, which has been acquired from overseas.”

Dr Aitken said monkeypox is a rare infection that, in most people, resolves on its own. But for some it can potentially be serious.

“[Queensland’s one case] posed a low threat to the community. However we continue to see cases appear in other jurisdictions,” he said.

“As is the case with other diseases, Queensland Health regularly liaises with its counterparts at a state and national level to respond appropriately.

He added, “Most cases of monkeypox will recover within one to two weeks. But severe disease can develop among a small percentage of individuals.

“As with all viruses and infections, Queenslanders should continue to practice preventative measures through good hygiene and symptom monitoring.

“This includes washing hands, monitoring for symptoms, and seeking medical attention if required.”

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Monkeypox does not spread easily but is transmitted through close skin-to-skin physical contact with someone who has symptoms, such as during sex or direct contact with contaminated objects, such as bedding, towels or clothes.

Symptoms include:

  • rashes, lesions or sores, particularly in areas that are hard to see such as the genitals, anus or anal area or on the face, arms and legs
  • ulcers, lesions or sores in the mouth
  • fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and/or exhaustion.

The World Health Organisation made the emergency declaration at the weekend as worldwide cases reached 16,000 across 75 countries.

In Australia, health authorities have recorded forty-five cases to date.

Twenty-four are in NSW, as well as 16 in Victoria, two in the ACT and one each in Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Most cases were acquired overseas but a small number were acquired locally, health authorities have said.

Federal Health Minister addresses community concern

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler acknowledged international cases of the virus are causing concern among at-risk groups here, including men who have sex with men.

“The Australian government recognises the concern that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men have about monkeypox,” he said in a statement.

“We are urgently working across governments to respond.

“The Commonwealth government is working to secure supply and the relevant approvals for new vaccines and treatments.

“[We are also] working closely with peak bodies and organisations to improve awareness and encourage people at risk and health professionals to be aware and alert to the symptoms.”

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