Monkeypox case confirmed in NSW

“We will be alerting everyone who needs to be alerted,” Chant said, declining to give further information about the Sydney man’s movements or where he had traveled in Europe.

“I can understand that monkeypox is an unusual name for a virus and it will trigger curiosity, but it is important that we fundamentally respect the privacy of cases,” she said.

“The last thing we want is for anyone to be concerned that their privacy will be breached by coming forward for care.”

Monkeypox is a virus similar to the smallpox virus, although its symptoms – beginning as flu-like and developing into a pustule-type rash and swelling – are much less severe and most people recover within a few weeks.

Chant cautioned against citing statistics from abroad that suggest the virus had a mortality rate of up to 10 per cent. She noted that most countries with a history of outbreaks were developing nations with very poor health systems and that Australia had antivirals that could be used in severe cases.

loading

Monkeypox, which can be spread by humans and animals, is transmitted through large respiratory droplets, from prolonged face-to-face contact, or skin contact.

“It is not the same mechanism as COVID or the flu, where [transmission] is more fleeting,” Chant stressed, noting health authorities were mostly concerned about people who had recently attended large parties or sex-on-premises venues abroad.

The virus is most common in tropical areas of remote Central and West Africa, with occasional cases in other countries among people who had recently traveled to those areas or owned imported pets.

However, Europe is experiencing its largest outbreak of the disease, mostly among young men who have sex with men, after a British man who had been tested positive in Nigeria on May 7.

Other British cases include a healthcare worker who treated infectious patients as well as at least four people who caught the virus locally. Subsequent European cases have been detected in Portugal, France, Italy, Sweden and Spain.

This week, further cases were confirmed in the US and are under investigation in Canada.

Historically, outbreaks outside of Africa have been very small. A 2003 US outbreak recorded 73 cases.

“It’s traditionally a virus that is not easily transmitted,” said Professor Sharon Lewin, director of the Doherty Institute, noting the outbreak was different because there were more people involved.

She said more epidemiology needed to occur to determine why this was the case, noting several cases in the UK had not been linked.

“Human cases don’t commonly infect other people,” agreed Associate Professor Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases physician at Canberra Hospital, noting the current figures in the outbreak were above average, but it was “early days in the outbreak, so hopefully they might dwindle away”.

Chant said it was possible a super-spreading event could have driven the current outbreak, but that it was something health authorities across the world were collaborating to investigate.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

Leave a Comment