First confirmed monkeypox case recorded in Australia

Australian health authorities on Friday confirmed a first case of monkeypox in the country, while a second was awaiting confirmation.

Sydney, 20 May 2022 (dpa/MIA) — Australian health authorities on Friday confirmed a first case of monkeypox in the country, while a second was awaiting confirmation.

The state of Victoria recorded its first case of monkeypox in a man his 30s who had recently returned from Britain, the state’s Department of Health said, adding that he was “isolating away from the community.”

The man developed mild symptoms before landing in Melbourne on Monday and sought immediate medical attention, Victoria’s Department of Health said.

Contact tracing was under way for people who shared the man’s flights.

“Monkeypox isn’t easily transmitted from person to person, as it requires direct skin to skin contact through broken skin, fluid or pus in lesions, or prolonged face to face contact via respiratory transmission,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said in a statement.

“People usually develop muscle aches and a fever before a rash develops, which can be itchy and painful.”

Earlier on Friday, neighboring New South Wales’ health authorities said they had identified another “probable” case of monkeypox in a man in his 40s who had recently returned to Sydney from Europe.

“Urgent testing was carried out which has today identified a probable case of monkeypox, with confirmatory testing under way,” NSW Health said in a public health alert on Friday.

The man developed a mild illness “several days” after returning to Australia. He was isolating at home with a household contact.

The cases follows multiple clusters of monkeypox recently reported in countries where the disease is not usually found – including the US, Britain, Spain and Portugal.

Monkeypox occurs in Central and West Africa, often in proximity to tropical rainforests, and is considered endemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it was first discovered in humans in 1970.

The illness can be transmitted from person to person through airborne droplets, close bodily contact or sharing contaminated linens or objects.

The virus usually causes symptoms similar to smallpox, but milder. Cases can also be severe. Smallpox has been considered eradicated worldwide since 1980 after a major vaccination campaign.

Experts suspect that the pathogen that causes monkeypox circulates in rodents – monkeys are so-called false hosts. According to the WHO, previous cases of monkeypox were usually due to travel to areas in West and Central Africa.

According to the World Health Organization, monkeypox has appeared more frequently in Nigeria in recent years. Since 2017, a total of 558 suspected cases have been reported there. Of those, 241 have been confirmed and eight people have died.

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