Australia has reported its first “probable” case of monkeypox. Here’s what you need to know

Australia reported a “probable” case of monkeypox in a traveler who returned from Europe.

The man in his 40s developed a mild illness shortly after returning to Sydney, NSW Health said in a statement on Friday.

He presented to his GP with symptoms associated with monkeypox.

“Urgent testing has been carried out which today identified a probable case of monkeypox, with confirmatory testing ongoing,” NSW Health said.

“The man and a family contact are self-isolating at home, with care and support provided by their GP and NSW Health.”

In this graphic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of one of the earliest known cases of monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand. Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images

According to Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant, monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people.

“Cases are occasionally reported in non-endemic countries in returning travelers or their close contacts, or in owners of imported pets,” Chant said.

“People can get monkeypox through very close contact with people who have the virus.

“The infection is usually a mild illness and most people recover within a few weeks.”

NSW Health said it would work closely with colleagues across Australia to monitor cases.

Doctors and sexual health services will receive more information to raise awareness of the infection.

Australia is the latest country to report a case of the rare disease, with Italy, Sweden, the UK, Spain, Portugal and the US already struggling with the monkeypox outbreak.

The World Health Organization, already busy with the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the world for the past three years has called for vigorous contact tracing of the wave of cases.

What is monkey pox?

Monkeypox is a rare but dangerous infection that belongs to the poxvirus family, which also includes the now eradicated smallpox virus.

It occurs in central and western Africa, often near tropical rainforests, and is considered endemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it was first discovered in humans in 1970.

The virus is usually contracted by a rodent or small mammal, and it is not easily transmitted from person to person.

Experts suspect that the pathogen that causes monkeypox circulates among rodents – monkeys are so-called false hosts.

However, monkeypox virus can be spread through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or items such as clothing and bedding that have been contaminated with the virus.

“As the lesions have healed, the scabs (which may carry infectious virus) may break off as dust, which can be inhaled,” said Dr Michael Skinner, who is on the faculty of medicine in the Department of infectious diseases from Imperial College London. , in a report.

Monkeypox can be transmitted through air droplets, close body contact, or sharing contaminated objects. Credit: PA

It can also spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, usually in close surroundings, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The disease is usually mild, although some cases can be fatal.

In Africa, about one in 10 people who contract monkeypox die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most people, however, recover after two to four weeks.

Where is monkeypox spread?

Authorities are tracking several clusters of monkeypox that have been reported over the past two weeks in several countries that do not normally report monkeypox.

“It is unknown how people in these groups were exposed to monkeypox, but the cases include individuals who identify as men who have sex with men,” the CDC said in a press release.

“Many of these global case reports of monkeypox are occurring within sexual networks,” Dr. Inger Damon, director of the CDC’s Division of Pathogens and High Consequence Conditions, said in the press release.

“However, healthcare providers should be alert to any rash with typical features of monkeypox. We ask the public to contact their healthcare provider if they have a new rash and are concerned about monkeypox.

The recent trend of cases among men who have had sex with men has raised questions among public health experts because monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted infection.

In this graphic from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the symptoms of the monkeypox virus is seen on a patient's hand.
In this graphic from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the symptoms of the monkeypox virus is seen on a patient’s hand. Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images

According to the Swedish Public Health Agency, one person is infected in the greater Stockholm area.

“The person infected with the virus in Sweden is not seriously ill but is receiving treatment,” infectious disease expert Klara Sonden said in a statement.

“We don’t know yet where the person was infected. The investigation into this is ongoing. »

A first monkeypox infection was also detected in Italy.

The Lazio region’s health chief, Alessio D’Amato, said on Facebook that the case had been confirmed at Italy’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

ANSA news agency reported that the infected man had returned from a trip to Spain’s Canary Islands and was in isolation in a hospital in Rome.

The French Ministry of Health indicated on Thursday that the first suspected case of monkeypox virus on French territory had been detected in the Paris/Ile-de-France region.

So far, four countries in Africa have reported cases of monkeypox in 2022 – Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria – the WHO said.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday that one person had been infected there.

A resident of the northeastern state of Massachusetts was tested on Tuesday, with CDC labs confirming monkeypox the following day.

The infected person had recently traveled to Canada using private transportation, the CDC noted.

Canadian broadcaster CBC reported that health officials in Quebec were investigating whether monkeypox had broken out there after being told that a visitor to the province was later confirmed as a case.

The disease does not usually spread easily between people, but British health officials say it is possible if there has been extremely close contact with an infected person.
The disease does not usually spread easily between people, but British health officials say it is possible if there has been extremely close contact with an infected person.

Credit: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty

In Spain, eight infections have been reported in the capital Madrid, according to news agency Europa Press, citing health authorities.

In Portugal, the newspaper public reported that 20 people had been infected.

The number of cases detected in the UK has risen to nine, health authorities announced on Wednesday.

The first, detected in early May, was a person who had recently traveled to Nigeria.

British authorities have advised the public to be alert for any lesions on their bodies.

Previous cases of monkeypox were usually due to travel to areas in West and Central Africa, according to the WHO.

The WHO said monkeypox has appeared more frequently in Nigeria in recent years.

Since 2017, a total of 558 suspected cases have been reported there.

Of these, 241 have been confirmed and eight people have died.

Symptoms of Monkey Pox

There is an incubation period of approximately seven to 14 days, the CDC said.

The first symptoms are usually flu-like, such as fever, chills, exhaustion, headache and muscle weakness, followed by swollen lymph nodes, which help the body fight infection and disease.

“One feature that distinguishes monkeypox infection from that of smallpox is the development of swollen lymph nodes,” the CDC said.

This is followed by a generalized rash on the face and body, including inside the mouth and on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

Sore, raised poxes are pearly and fluid-filled, often surrounded by red circles.

The lesions eventually crust over and disappear over a period of two to three weeks, the CDC said.

“Treatment is generally supportive as there are no specific drugs available,” Jimmy Whitworth, professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a statement.

“However, a vaccine is available that can be administered to prevent the development of the disease.”

What to do if you think you have monkeypox

The general public and health clinics should be aware of and have unusual rashes examined by specialist personnel, the WHO said in a separate statement.

If monkeypox is suspected, patients should be isolated, the health body continued.

There is no proven treatment for monkeypox, but doctors can treat its symptoms.

Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said supportive care was quite effective for the West African clade.

Beyond that, she said, were experimental drugs that hadn’t been widely tested in humans.

Physicians who identify a suspected case of monkeypox should report it to the CDC, said CDC physician Dr. Agam Rao, because “any potential treatments that could be provided to the patient are really only available in consultation with the authorities in public health”.

Experts believe a smallpox vaccine could help reduce symptoms or prevent disease if given soon after a person is infected.

For now, Rao said, the risk to the general population is very low.

“I wouldn’t want people to be too terribly alarmed right now and change their behavior too much,” she said.

– With CNN, AAP, NBC

Monkeypox outbreak 2022

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