Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in Central and West Africa. Since May 2022, there has been a global increase in monkeypox cases reported from multiple countries where monkeypox is not usually seen. Australia has also reported its first cases of monkeypox.
Cases reported so far are mainly among people with no recent travel to Central or West Africa, meaning there is local community transmission.
It can be spread by direct contact with someone with monkeypox (infected droplets, bodily fluids, lesions or scabs on the skin, or contaminated objects, such as bedding or clothes). It may also be spread by direct contact during sex. Anyone who has been in close contact with someone with monkeypox is at risk.
Monkeypox begins with a fever and cases often develop a rash, which begins in the mouth and face, before spreading to other parts of the body. A notable symptom of this international outbreak is that the rash may first appear in the genital area.
The illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks and is mild. Most people recover within a few weeks.
Monkeypox is now a notifiable disease under the NSW Public Health Act 2010. Doctors, hospitals and laboratories must notify any suspected cases to the local public health unit immediately. Public health unit staff will initiate a public health investigation, contact tracing and control measures.
For further information, please see: