NZ unlikely to see big outbreak of monkeypox - expert

Source: 1News

It's very unlikely New Zealand will see a big outbreak of moneypox, University of Otago biochemistry Professor Kurt Krause says.

A number of monkeypox cases have been identified in European countries in recent days, mostly in young men. It's a surprising outbreak of a disease that rarely appears outside Africa.

Krause told 1News, "I think it's really good people are paying attention but it's also important people calm down a little bit and wait till we get more data because it's highly unlikely that it's going to become a major outbreak."

He added that it's a very different virus to Covid-19, "by in large most of these kinds of outbreaks [monkeypox] are small and isolated and don't become a global pandemic."

"Generally speaking, the outbreaks are small, they affect 100-200 people and then they sort of go away," Krause said.

He said if monkeypox did end becoming a large issue, New Zealand already has vaccines in place.

READ MORE: Monkeypox outbreak hits 92, cases to grow - WHO

"The smallpox vaccines, which were developed for smallpox which resulted in the eradication of smallpox are about 85% effective for monkey pox," Krause said.

He said the best way for New Zealand to prepare for a potential outbreak is to utilise the public health measures already available.

READ MORE: African scientists baffled by monkeypox cases in Europe, US

"If a case appears, people should notify their physician, the Ministry of Health, contact tracing would be done.

"Generally speaking if somebody has monkeypox they end up being isolated from other people and unlike coronavirus where you don't know who is sick, with monkeypox you're covered with pox lesions so it's quite obvious that there's something seriously wrong," Krause told 1News.

No cases of the disease have identified in New Zealand yet, but cases have hit 92 worldwide, including in Australia.