Victoria has recorded its first case of Monkeypox in a returned overseas traveler who had visited the UK where there is currently a small cluster of the virus.
The man, aged in his 30s, developed mild symptoms before returning to Melbourne on the 16 May and immediately sought medical attention.
Testing has confirmed that he has the virus, and he remains in isolation at The Alfred with mild symptoms.
Monkeypox is a rare virus that starts with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headaches and muscle aches and pains. It causes a distinctive blistering rash and swollen lymph nodes.
Cases have recently been identified in the UK, Spain, Portugal, USA, Italy, Sweden, France and Canada – predominantly among men who have sex with men who have not travelled to endemic areas.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the virus isn’t easily spread between people, and usually resolves on its own within two to three weeks.
“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.”
“People usually develop muscle aches and a fever before a rash develops, which can be itchy and painful.”
The Department of Health has begun contact tracing, with the man’s close contacts being asked to monitor for symptoms and isolate only if they develop symptoms. Some close contacts will be offered a vaccine, which can be effective up to four days after potential exposure.
As a precaution, passengers seated nearby on the man’s flights are also being contacted to monitor for symptoms and isolate only if they develop symptoms. Relevant fights include:
- flight EY10 which departed London on 14 May and landed in Abu Dhabi at 0615
- flight EY462 which departed Abu Dhabi on 15 May and landed in Melbourne at 0545 on 16 May.
Anyone who develops symptoms is being urged to seek care at their nearest hospital, wearing a mask and calling ahead to make sure they can be isolated away from others.
The monkeypox virus is related to the virus which causes smallpox, and historically, vaccination against smallpox is protective against monkeypox.
Wild animals, usually from forested parts of Central and West Africa, may carry the virus and incidental human infections can occur through contact with live and dead animals through hunting and by eating wild game.