23 May 2022

WA Health issues clinician alert for monkeypox virus

WA Health is monitoring an emergence of monkeypox virus infections in the eastern states and internationally.

One probable case of the virus has been detected in New South Wales and another case identified in Victoria. Both cases had returned from travel overseas.

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that is usually linked to travel to Central or West Africa, though it has been identified in other locations in recent weeks, including several European countries and the United States. The spread of the virus is being monitored by the World Health Organisation.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Paul Armstrong said that WA Health had issued an alert to clinicians at GPs and hospitals across the State, with information on how to diagnose and manage cases of monkeypox.

“There have been no cases detected in Western Australia so far, but we are asking clinicians to be vigilant and watch for signs of the virus,” Dr Armstrong said.

“Monkeypox is spread to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus.

“Many of the recently recorded cases have occurred in men who have sex with men.

“This virus does not spread easily among people – though you can get it through very close contact with someone.

“The virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.

“The infection usually causes a mild illness and most people recover within a few weeks.”

The initial symptoms of the illness include fever, headache, and sometimes sore throat, cough, and enlarged lymph nodes. A rash then develops which can be widespread or localised to a specific part of the body.

Anyone with concerns that they could be infected with monkeypox virus is advised to consult their general practitioner or a sexual health clinic.

No cases have been reported in Western Australia previously.

See this factsheet from the World Health Organisation.


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