Public Health experts of the Ministry of Health are keeping a close eye on developments with the multi-country outbreak of monkeypox around the world.
As of 21st of May, confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox have been reported from 12 members states of WHO that are not endemic for monkey pox or not known for monkeypox. Australia is amongst these 12 countries having reported 2 confirmed cases as of 21st May 2022.
At present, the assessment in the world shows that Monkeypox situation is a cause of concern but it is not likely to lead to very high number of cases and situation needs constant monitoring.
The Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It is a viral zoonotic disease, meaning that it can spread from animals to humans and between people. Therefore, like COVID-19 there exists the possibility for the virus to be brought into the country by international arrivals.
However, the monkeypox virus is less infectious than COVID. It means that even if monkeypox case enters into the country, it will not spread the way COVID-19 spread during the 2 waves of COVID-19. In most cases, its symptoms will go away within weeks, without treatment. Nevertheless, in some individuals, they can lead to medical complications and even death in 3-10% of the cases.
Those mostly at risk of falling sick and die from it are newborns, children and people with weak immune system especially those with underlying health conditions and people living with HIV and AIDS.
Those infected with monkeypox will typically experience a fever, intense headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash or lesions. The rash usually begins within one to three days of the start of a fever. Number of lesions can range between a few to several thousands.
As part of its preparation to prevent entry of monkeypox into the country, the Ministry of Health is assessing possible measures to ensure incoming international arrivals mainly from Australia are free from monkeypox and how it can best contained and managed should it find its way into the country.
The MHMS will also ensure that enhanced surveillance of the people with symptoms of monkeypox is initiated to swiftly detect any new case.
Health is also working on obtaining reagents to enable molecular laboratory testing for detection of the monkeypox virus to ensure that any entry is swiftly detected for appropriate and necessary health response.
Health would like to inform that given the preparedness and response to COVID-19, the country is at least in much better position compared to pre-COVID, to respond to monkeypox given the enhanced laboratory capability, infrastructure and enhanced capacity of workers in terms of personal protective equipment, infection prevention and control supplies and protocols.
In the meantime, health is closely monitoring the situation in Australia and the globe. There is no need to panic at this stage, however, people are once again reminded to report any cases of fever with rash, especially In Africa ( Congo, Nigeria, with those who had recently been African countries such as Nigeria, Congo, Cameroon, Ghana and others like Australia, United States of America, United Kingdom and European countries, Belgium, Germany, France where outbreaks have been reported in the past 21 days.