Health Alert: Monkeypox
There is currently a multi-country outbreak of monkeypox. Cases have been detected in Australia, some of which are locally acquired infections. Severe illness may develop in a small percentage of people with monkeypox. Timely contact tracing and surveillance measures are essential to prevent secondary cases.
Who is at risk?
While the current outbreak has disproportionately impacted men who have sex with men, anyone who has been in close and usually prolonged contact with someone with monkeypox is at risk.
Symptoms and transmission
Symptoms of monkeypox can include a rash, fever, chills, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, and exhaustion. In the current outbreak, lesions frequently begin and affect the genital or anal areas and may or may not be associated with swollen lymph nodes or fever. Some cases present with urethritis or proctitis (presenting with pain on urinating, or rectal pain, or bloody stools, and diarrhoea). The rash may involve vesicles, pustules, pimples, or ulcers, and can also appear on the body, face, palms of hands and soles of the feet or inside the mouth. The number of lesions vary, and the rash goes through different stages, like chickenpox, before finally becoming a scab that falls off.
Monkeypox may be spread from person-to-person through skin-to-skin contact, contact with contaminated items or surfaces, and respiratory droplets.
People with monkeypox are infectious from the time that they develop their first symptoms (which may be a fever or a rash) and until rash lesions crust, dry or fall off.
Anyone who develops symptoms is urged to seek medical care, wear a mask and call ahead to make sure they can isolate away from others.
Avoid close contact with people who have suspected or confirmed monkeypox infection. Stay vigilant with hygiene measures including wearing masks and washing hands with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitiser is important.
The Department of Health is working with the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions and is anticipating having access to the newer smallpox vaccine in the near future to protect those most at risk.
To read more of the FAQs around the disease click here.
For more information on the disease click here.