Australia reports first probable case of monkeypox

Monkeypox is likely in Australia, according to health authorities
The patient is a man in his 40s who recently returned from Europe. Photo credit: Getty Images

A probable case of monkeypox has been identified in Australia in a recently returned traveller from Europe, NSW Health has announced.

The man in his 40s developed a mild illness several days after arriving back in Sydney, the health agency said.

He subsequently presented to his GP with symptoms clinically compatible with monkeypox. Urgent testing was carried out which identified a probable case of monkeypox, with confirmatory testing now underway.

The man and a household contact are isolating at home, with care and support being provided by health services.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people and is usually associated with travel to Central or West Africa, where it is endemic.

"Cases are occasionally reported in non-endemic countries in returning travellers or their close contacts, or in owners of imported pets. People can contract monkeypox through very close contact with people who are infected with the virus," Dr Chant said.

"The infection is usually a mild illness and most people recover within a few weeks."

Cases of monkeypox have been identified in several non-endemic countries in recent weeks, including several European countries and the US.

Chant said NSW Health has taken steps to ensure it identifies and appropriately manages any potential monkeypox cases.

"NSW Health has issued a clinician alert to GPs and hospitals across the state and has also been in contact with sexual health services to increase awareness of the cases identified overseas and to provide advice on diagnosis and referral," she said.

"We will be speaking with GPs about this issue again," Dr Chant said.