Probable case of monkeypox in Australia

Source: 1News

A probable case of monkeypox has been identified in Australia as cases continue to spread worldwide.

The case is a person who recently returned to NSW from Europe.

"A man in his 40s developed a mild illness several days after arriving back in Sydney," NSW Health said in a media release on Friday.

"He subsequently presented to his GP with symptoms clinically compatible with monkeypox. Urgent testing was carried out which has today identified a probable case of monkeypox, with confirmatory testing underway."

The release goes on to say that the man and a household contact are isolating at home.

It comes as cases have now been identified in at least eight countries, including several European countries and the US and Canada.

New Zealand's Ministry of Health on Friday told 1News that the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) has assessed the risk of importation to New Zealand to be low.

"But it should be considered in a person with recent travel from an endemic or epidemic area presenting with a chickenpox-like illness," the ministry said.

"The ministry is watching the international situation."

It also added that the New Zealand AIDS Foundation is giving social media messages to the men who have sex with men (MSM) community, advising on how to recognise it, and on the low risk in New Zealand.

This is because cases have predominantly been identified as spreading within this community so far in overseas outbreaks.

There are no suspected cases in New Zealand, the ministry says.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant says that monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people and is usually associated with travel to Central or West Africa, where it is endemic.

“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,” Chant said.

According to the Associated Press: "Monkeypox typically causes fever, chills, a rash and lesions on the face or genitals resembling those caused by smallpox. A vaccine developed against smallpox has been approved for monkeypox, and several anti-virals also appear to be effective."

Monkeypox can be fatal for up to one in 10 people and is thought to be more severe in children.

Most people will recover from the illness in one to three weeks the World Health Organization says.