What are the symptoms and should Australia be concerned?

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The World Health Organization will convene a committee next week to determine whether monkeypox represents a global public health emergency.

WHO experts will meet on June 23 to decide whether the ongoing outbreak should be considered a public health emergency of international concern. Such a designation, the highest global alert level, currently only applies to Covid-19 and polio.

In Australia, there have now been three cases after a man in his 50s who recently returned to Sydney from Queensland was diagnosed with the virus.

It is the second case of monkeypox in New South Wales, but it is not related to the first, which was reported two weeks ago.

On Monday, Western Australian health authorities reported that a visitor who traveled through Perth in May was diagnosed with monkeypox after returning from abroad. Contact tracing did not identify any secondary cases.

Related:Australia’s first probable monkeypox virus case identified in New South Wales

More than 1,600 cases and nearly 1,500 suspected cases have been reported in 39 countries, according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

470 cases have been detected in the UK and, as of June 8, 704 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the European Union. So should Australia be worried?


What are the symptoms?

The monkeypox virus causes flu-like symptoms, including fever, body aches and chills, and causes a distinctive rash in the form of lesions that often start on the face.

How concerned should Australia be?

According to Peter Collignon, a professor of infectious diseases at the Australian National University, there is no cause for alarm because monkeypox “is not highly transmissible from person to person,” he said.

Animals are the reservoir of the virus, with rodents thought to be the primary source. It appears to be transmitted primarily to humans through interaction with infected animals.

Risk factors associated with person-to-person transmission include sleeping in the same room or bed, living in the same household, or drinking or eating from the same plate as an infected person.

“People need to remember that we actually already have other smallpox viruses in Australia, like Orf, a highly contagious virus among sheep that occasionally spreads to humans, mainly the farmers who work with them,” Collignon said. “But we don’t see significant outbreaks of that in humans who get infected.

“Smallpox viruses are not new. And monkeypox is not like covid, with a high rate of transmission.”

When was monkeypox first identified?

The first case of monkeypox anywhere was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa, during intense efforts to find and eliminate smallpox.

Cases in the UK are unusual because monkeypox is an extremely rare virus outside of Africa and does not spread easily between people.

Since the UK cases were identified, as of June 9, 209 suspected cases have been identified in Portugal, 198 in Spain and 131 in Germany..

When the virus appears outside of Africa it is because someone traveled to an endemic region, got infected and returned home. But in the UK, no source of infection has been confirmed for eight of the cases, despite contact tracing efforts.

The first of the new cases found in the UK, detected on May 7, had traveled to Nigeria where he is believed to have contracted the disease. But two other clusters of cases have since emerged in the UK, with no link established to that first case.

Related:‘Don’t talk about Covid’: Major parties accused of virus complacency during election campaign

“Based on currently available information, the infection appears to have been acquired locally in the UK,” the WHO said on Thursday. “The extent of local transmission is unclear at this stage and there is potential to identify more cases.”

marked upstream transmission

There are two strains of monkeypox; a Central African strain with a mortality rate of 10.6% and a West African strain with a much lower mortality rate, between 1% and 3.6%. The latter is the strain identified in the UK.

But there have been warnings that countries outside of Africa have become too complacent about the virus because of its rarity. A study published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases in February found that cases of monkeypox, while rare, are on the rise.

The study authors reviewed monkeypox data from many countries and studies, finding “an escalation of monkeypox cases, especially in the highly endemic Democratic Republic of the Congo, a spread to other countries, and an increasing median age from toddlers to young adults.

“These findings may be related to the cessation of smallpox vaccination, which provided some cross-protection against monkeypox, leading to increased human-to-human transmission,” the study found.

“The appearance of outbreaks beyond Africa highlights the global relevance of the disease.”

The authors urged increased surveillance and detection of monkeypox cases worldwide to understand its changing epidemiology, describing it as a “resurgent disease.”

Related:Why are Australia’s Covid case rates still so high and how can we prevent further deaths?

Are there any theories yet as to how the broadcast is happening in the UK?

One of the clusters in the UK has been among men who have sex with men, but experts have warned against labeling it a sexually transmitted disease.

Dr Michael Skinner, from Imperial College London, said: “Although this is the first time we have seen monkeypox in this group, that may be because the number of cases has previously been low and therefore it is less likely that specific groups have been infected. captured in the statistics.”

“By nature, sexual activity involves intimate contact, which one would expect to increase the likelihood of transmission, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation and mode of transmission,” he said.

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