NSW Health has issued a health alert after identifying a “probable case” of monkeypox in Sydney in a returned traveller from Europe.
The man in his 40s developed a mild illness several days after arriving back in Sydney with symptoms compatible with monkeypox.
He presented to a GP where he was sent for urgent testing which has today identified a probable case of monkeypox, with confirmatory testing underway.
The man and a household contact are now isolated at home.
According to the World Health Organisation, monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms very similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.
Cases of monkeypox have been identified in several non-endemic countries in recent weeks, including several European countries and the United States.
Monkeypox is usually associated with travel to Central or West Africa, where it is endemic.
Symptoms typically present clinically with fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said NSW Health says it is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people.
“Cases are occasionally reported in non-endemic countries in returning travellers or their close contacts, or in owners of imported pets,” Dr Chant says.
“People can contract monkeypox through very close contact with people who are infected with the virus.”
NSW Health has taken steps to ensure any potential monkeypox cases are managed.
“NSW Health has issued a clinician alert to GPs and hospitals across the state and has also been in contact with sexual health services to increase awareness of the cases identified overseas and to provide advice on diagnosis and referral,” Dr Chant says.
“The infection is usually a mild illness and most people recover within a few weeks.”