Fears killer virus spreads in Australia after man suddenly falls ill with the disease
- First mpox case diagnosed since November
- The patient did not contract it abroad
- Gay or bisexual men are the main risk group
The deadly monkeypox virus is spreading in Australia, officials fear, after a man in New South Wales became infected.
An alert has been issued urging men who have sex with other men to be aware of Mpox’s symptoms, with Thursday’s Sydney case being discovered in the state for the first time in six months.
Dr. Vicky Sheppeard, director of the South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit, says that while the state’s vaccination program against the infectious disease has been highly successful, the virus will continue to emerge in Australia as it circulates abroad.
All cases of Mpox in NSW have occurred in men who have sex with men and most were caught traveling in other countries.
The man who was found to be infected with the virus this month had no associations with traveling abroad, raising concerns about local transmission.
The prominent symptom of Mpox – formerly known as monkeypox – is red skin lesions
There were 56 Mpox cases found in NSW between May and November 2022.
Dr. Sheppeard said there is strong acceptance of Mpox vaccination and urged anyone who had not yet received the shot to get it if they belong to an at-risk group.
“While our vaccination program against Mpox, combined with monitoring people at risk for symptoms, has been very successful in controlling the spread in NSW, there is a risk of new cases here as long as cases continue in other countries,” said dr. Sheppard.
She urged anyone with symptoms to see their GP or sexual health clinic.
Symptoms of the virus, usually endemic in a few African countries, include mild fever, headache, fatigue or swollen lymph nodes.
The most obvious symptom is the presence of small pimple-like skin lesions, which spread and develop pus and then crust over.
Averages at high risk of contracting Mpox are urged to get vaccinated against the disease
As of May 2022, there has been a global outbreak of Mpox with over 87,000 reported cases, mostly gay or bisexual men.
While there have been some deaths associated with it overseas, all cases in NSW have recovered and very few have required hospitalization.
Cases stabilized nationally in late September, with an outbreak in Victoria declared “turned over” that month.
Federal Health Secretary Mark Butler said the country had seen a total of about 135 infections since the virus arrived.
The government signed an agreement last August for nearly half a million doses of monkeypox vaccine with biotech company Bavarian Nordic.