Australia has reported a “probable” case of monkey pox in a returning traveler from Europe.
The man in his 40s contracted a mild illness shortly after returning to Sydney, NSW Health said in a statement on Friday.
He presented to his primary care physician with symptoms associated with monkey pox.
“Urgent tests have been conducted today that have identified a probable case of monkeypox, with confirmatory testing underway,” NSW Health said.
“The man and a household contact are in isolation at home, with care and support being provided by their GP and NSW Health.”
Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant says monkeypox is a rare viral infection that doesn’t spread easily between people.
“There are occasional cases reported in non-endemic countries in returning travelers or their close contacts, or in owners of imported pets,” Chant said.
“People can contract monkeypox through very close contact with people infected with the virus.
“The infection is usually a mild illness and most people recover within a few weeks.”
NSW Health said it would work closely with colleagues across Australia to monitor for cases.
Doctors and sexual health services will be provided with more information to raise awareness of the infection.
Australia is the latest country to report a case of the rare disease, with Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal and the United States already dealing with the monkey pox outbreak†
The World Health Organization, already working on the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the world for the past three years has called for a vigorous contact investigation of the stream of cases.
What is monkey pox?
Monkeypox is a rare but dangerous infection that belongs to the smallpox family, which includes the now eradicated smallpox virus.
It occurs in Central and West Africa, often near tropical rainforests, and is considered endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it was first discovered in humans in 1970.
The virus is usually contracted from a rodent or small mammal and does not spread easily from one person to another.
Experts suspect that the pathogen that causes monkeypox circulates in rodents – monkeys are so-called false hosts.
However, the monkey pox virus can spread through contact with bodily fluids, monkey pox sores, or items such as clothing and bedding that are contaminated with the virus.
“Once the lesions have healed, the scabs (which may contain a contagious virus) can be shed as dust, which can be inhaled,” said Dr Michael Skinner, who is on the faculty of medicine in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London. . , in a statement.
It can also spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, usually in a close environment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The disease is usually mild, although some cases can be fatal.
In Africa, about one in ten people who contract monkeypox die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention†
However, most people recover after two to four weeks.
Where does monkeypox spread?
Authorities are monitoring multiple clusters of monkeypox reported in the past two weeks in several countries that normally do not report monkeypox.
“It’s not clear how people in those clusters were exposed to monkey pox, but it includes individuals who self-identify as men having sex with men,” the CDC said in a press release.
“Many of these worldwide reports of monkeypox cases take place within sexual networks,” said Dr. Inger Damon, director of CDC’s Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, in the press release.
“Healthcare providers should, however, be alert to rashes with features typical of monkeypox. We ask the public to contact their healthcare provider if they have a new rash and are concerned about monkeypox.”
The recent pattern of cases among men who have had sex with men has raised questions among public health experts, as monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted disease.
According to the Swedish Public Health Agency, one person has been infected in the Stockholm area.
“The person infected with the virus in Sweden is not seriously ill but is being treated,” infectious disease expert Klara Sonden said in a statement.
“We do not yet know where the person became infected. The investigation into this is still ongoing.”
A first monkeypox infection has also been identified in Italy.
The health chief of the Lazio region, Alessio D’Amato, said on Facebook that the case had been confirmed by the Italian National Institute of Infectious Diseases.
The ANSA news agency reported that the infected man had returned from a trip to the Spanish Canary Islands and was in isolation in a hospital in Rome.
The French health ministry said on Thursday that the first suspected case of monkeypox virus on French soil had been detected in the Paris/Ile-de-France region.
So far, four countries in Africa have reported cases of monkeypox in 2022 — Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria — according to the WHO.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday that one person was infected there.
A resident of the state of Massachusetts in the northeast of the country was tested on Tuesday, and the CDC labs confirmed monkey pox the next day.
The infected person had recently traveled to Canada on private transportation, the CDC noted.
Canadian broadcaster CBC reported that health officials in Quebec were investigating whether monkey pox had broken out there after a visitor to the province was notified that it was later confirmed as a case.
In Spain, eight infections have been reported in the capital Madrid, according to the Europa Press news agency, citing health authorities.
In Portugal, the newspaper public reported that 20 people were infected.
The number of cases discovered in the UK has risen to nine, health authorities said on Wednesday.
The first, discovered in early May, was a person who had recently traveled to Nigeria.
British authorities have advised the public to be alert to any injuries to their bodies.
According to the WHO, previous cases of monkeypox were mostly due to travel to areas of West and Central Africa.
The WHO said monkeypox has become more common in Nigeria in recent years.
A total of 558 suspected cases have been reported there since 2017.
Of these, 241 have been confirmed and eight people have died.
There is an incubation period of about seven to fourteen days, according to the CDA.
The first symptoms are usually flu-like, such as fever, chills, exhaustion, headache and muscle weakness, followed by swelling in the lymph nodes, which help the body fight infection and disease.
“One feature that distinguishes monkeypox infection from smallpox infection is the development of swollen lymph nodes,” according to the CDC.
Next comes a widespread rash on the face and body, including in the mouth and on the palms and soles.
The painful, raised pox is pearly and fluid-filled, often surrounded by red circles.
The lesions eventually disappear, disappearing over a period of two to three weeks, the CDC said.
“The treatment is generally supportive because no specific drugs are available,” Jimmy Whitworth, a professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a statement.
“However, there is a vaccine available that can be given to prevent the development of disease.”
What to do if you suspect you have monkey pox?
The general public and health clinics should be informed and have unusual skin rashes examined by specialist personnel, the WHO said in a separate statement.
If monkeypox is suspected, patients should be isolated, the health agency continued.
There is no proven treatment for monkeypox, but doctors can treat its symptoms.
Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said supportive care was quite effective for the West African group.
Beyond that, she said, there were some experimental drugs that hadn’t been widely tested in humans.
Doctors who identify a suspected case of monkeypox should report it to the CDC, said Dr. Agam Rao, a medical officer with the CDC, as “all possible treatments that can be given to the patient are really only available through consultation with the public health authorities”.
Experts think a smallpox vaccine can help reduce symptoms or prevent illness if given shortly after someone has been infected.
For now, Rao said, the risk to the general population is very low.
“I wouldn’t want people to be too alarmed right now and change their behavior too much,” she said.
– With CNN, AAP, NBC
Monkeypox outbreak 2022
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