What is Monkeypox: Symptoms, Treatments, Cases and Response from Australia

There is growing concern and confusion over the threat the Monkeypox virus poses to Australia, as the disease continues to circulate around the world.

There have been more than 31,000 cases in almost 90 countries since May, while the virus has been present in Australia for almost three months.

As the world continues to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the public is understandably concerned about the health and social implications another deadly disease could have.

Here’s everything you need to know about Monkeypox and what it means for Australia.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a zoonotic virus, which means that it is a disease transmitted to humans from animals.

It is usually found in Central and West Africa near tropical rainforests, but has spread to more urban areas in recent times.

The hallmark symptoms of Monkeypox are a rash or pimple-like lesions on the face, mouth, hands, feet, or genitals.

Other symptoms include fever, body aches, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and chills.

Monkeypox usually only lasts two to four weeks, but it can lead to a range of medical complications in severe cases, with the virus having a case fatality rate of around three to six percent.

The virus can be spread by contact with an infected animal (rodents and non-human primates) or human.

It is transmitted from person to person through close contact with wounds, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials.

Ninety-eight percent of cases outside Africa have been reported in men who have sex with men.

What is the threat level?

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on July 23.

This was followed by Australia declaring Monkeypox a communicable disease incident of national significance five days later.

Despite these public health claims and the potentially deadly effects of the virus, there is far less concern associated with Monkeypox than with Covid.

It does not spread as easily as Covid, which means Monkeypox will not require widespread public health measures such as lockdowns.

Her rashes and flu-like symptoms are relatively mild, and most cases usually resolve on their own within two to four weeks without requiring specific treatment.

Monkeypox is not a pandemic either, as it has not spread worldwide.

Australia’s chief medical officer, Professor Paul Kelly, described Monkeypox as ‘much less harmful’ and ‘much less transmissible’ than Covid.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described Monkeypox as “an epidemic that can be stopped” and said the public health emergency declaration was made in part to get countries to take the virus higher. seriously.

How many houses are there in Australia?

As of Tuesday, there were 66 confirmed or probable cases of Monkeypox in Australia.

Since then, another case was confirmed in Western Australia on Thursday, bringing the total to 67.

Thirty-three of them were in New South Wales, 27 in Victoria, two in the ACT, two in Queensland, two in Western Australia and one in South Australia.

The virus had not been identified in Australia until May 20, when two cases were confirmed in New South Wales and Victoria respectively.

Most cases in Australia have been in people between the ages of 21 and 40.

They were mainly international travellers, although two cases were contracted locally.

The cases also primarily involved gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

What if I catch it?

A case of Monkeypox is confirmed by laboratory tests, so a person who thinks they may be infected should seek medical attention immediately.

A person with a probable or confirmed case should immediately self-isolate until all of their blisters or sores have healed and a new layer of skin has formed.

All physical contact should be avoided with the infected person, including any object they may have come into contact with.

The infected person and those around them should practice proper hand washing and respiratory hygiene techniques.

Most people who catch the virus need no treatment or only supportive measures.

This may include pain relief or antiviral treatment if the case is more severe.

There are also vaccines that can be given to a person before or after exposure, although it is generally recommended to get vaccinated before becoming infected for the best protection.

People who are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch monkeypox are young children, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems.

What is being done about it?

The Australian government has secured an initial supply of nearly half a million doses of the Jynneos smallpox vaccine.

Jynneos is the preferred vaccine in Australia for Monkeypox, but the problem is that there is a limited supply, high demand and it is only made by one manufacturer.

The government only secured the country’s 450,000 doses after 27 meetings with vaccine company Bavarian Nordic.

Of this initial supply, 22,000 vaccines have already arrived in Australia.

A hundred thousand more will come during the year, while 350,000 doses will arrive in 2023.

States and territories are responsible for administering the vaccine in their jurisdiction, which means they will decide where it will be available and who will be given priority to receive it.

Australia’s Immunization Technical Advisory Group has compiled a list of key risk groups that should be prioritized to help guide states and territories.

These groups are:

  • Anyone considered by public health authorities to be a high-risk contact of Monkeypox in the past 14 days
  • Gays, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men who are most at risk of Monkeypox infection due to high levels of sexual contact
  • Sex workers, especially those whose clients fall into high-risk categories
  • Anyone in the above risk categories planning to travel to a country with a significant outbreak, with vaccination recommended four to six weeks prior to departure
  • Vaccine Suppliers that Administer ACAM2000™ Smallpox Vaccine

This means that many people will not be eligible in the first vaccine deployments to ensure that the most vulnerable are vaccinated.

Jynneos arrivals have been confirmed in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, with the rollout starting in New South Wales on Monday.

Other actions the federal government has taken include widespread public health messaging regarding Monkeypox, to educate the public and healthcare professionals about the symptoms, and to alert those most at risk.

National expert groups have also developed guidelines on treatments and vaccines.

Originally published as Everything you need to know about monkeypox in Australia