South Australia records first case of monkeypox in man who had travelled overseas

South Australia has recorded its first case of monkeypox.

A man who had travelled overseas has tested positive for the virus and is in a stable condition and isolating at home.

Health authorities said the man has no close contacts in South Australia and there is no risk of further local spread.

South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer, Nicola Spurrier, said the man’s overseas close contacts would be informed.

Professor Spurrier said the man had seen the health advice regarding monkeypox and got tested once he developed symptoms.

The monkeypox outbreak began in May and has since been detected in 50 countries outside the African nations where the virus is endemic.

Australia recorded its first case on May 20 and, as of June 26, there have been six confirmed cases in New South Wales and four in Victoria.

Professor Spurrier said symptoms of monkeypox included a rash with fluid-filled lesions, as well as fever, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes.

“It is very similar to the virus that causes smallpox but it is much less severe and is generally self-limiting,” she said.

“Occasionally, in people who might have immune problems, it might be more severe but, in general, it is self-limiting and doesn’t require any treatment.”

A vial rests on a gause swab with monkeypox written on it
More than 3,200 cases of monkeypox have been reported to the World Health Organisation in the current outbreak.(Reuters: Given Ruvic)

Professor Spurrier said the disease could be spread through contact with the contagious fluid within the lesions.

Monkeypox can also be spread via respiratory droplets but this is less common, and usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact.

“It’s not as transmissible as COVID, clearly, particularly Omicron, which is aerosol transmission,” she said.

“So ,we don’t expect that there is going to be [a massive] number of cases, but it’s certainly something our communicable diseases team will get straight onto and take very seriously as a notifiable condition in this state and make sure that we put all of that prevention in place.”

Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation announced it would work with experts to officially rename monkeypoxamid concerns over stigma and racism around the “discriminatory” name of the virus.

When asked about changing the name, Professor Spurrier said there was “no place in communicable diseases for stigma, for racism”.

“I understand the reasons why people might consider changing the name but I would be more saying let’s get rid of stigma and racism out of communicable disease control and in its entirety, regardless of what a name is used to call a virus,” she said.

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