Monkeypox virus spreads to AST

A rare monkeypox virus has been found in another part of Australia as health experts urge the public not to overreact.

The deadly monkeypox virus has spread to the Australian capital, with two new cases detected in the Australian capital area.

Members of the public are being urged not to be alarmed by the surge in cases since the virus first reached Australia on May 20.

Health officials said the two new cases were in Europe and have recently returned to the ACT.

The total number of cases in Australia rose to 28 after Queensland reported its first case on Monday.

New South Wales has the highest number of cases so far, with 17 confirmed cases.

The state also recorded the first case of suspected local transmission earlier this month.

ACT Chief Medical Officer Kerrin Coleman stressed that the virus is very different from Covid-19 and much more difficult to spread.

She said transmission of the disease usually requires direct skin-to-skin contact or prolonged face-to-face contact with an infected person.

Those who are contagious also tend to be visibly unwell, making isolation measures much more effective.

“Symptoms may initially include fever, chills, muscle aches, back pain and swollen lymph nodes,” Dr. Coleman said.

“These symptoms are usually followed by a rash that spreads to other parts of the body.

“The rash changes and goes through stages like chickenpox before finally becoming a scab.”

Those showing symptoms are advised to stay home and contact their GP to arrange a telemedicine appointment as the first point of call.

“Monkeypox virus disease is usually mild, although complications can occur,” Dr. Coleman said.

There is no cure, but symptoms usually disappear after two to four weeks.

The disease is considered endemic in 11 African countries, where the mortality rate is between three and six percent.

Akin to smallpox, which is now largely eradicated, monkeypox sufferers develop visible sores on their bodies that eventually crust and fall off.

They usually appear on the genitals, which is why some patients go to sexual health clinics rather than general practitioners.

The ongoing global outbreak of the virus has also spread to the UK, Europe, North America, the Middle East and other regions not endemic for the virus.

University of Queensland infectious disease expert Paul Griffith said he expects the number of positive cases in Australia to remain relatively low due to the ability to effectively interrupt transmission through lockdown measures.

“Monkeypox is a virus very different from influenza and Covid; It’s actually relatively hard to convey, you need real close physical contact with contaminated body fluid,” Associate Professor Griffin said.

“And the fact that most contagious people are clearly unwell, so they are not going to go about their daily lives unknowingly spreading this in the community.

“We just need basic awareness so that if someone potentially has symptoms and gets tested, we can isolate them and make sure they don’t pass it on.”

Originally published as Killer virus spreads to new Australian state as health officials call for calm