04 May 2023

NSW Health is asking gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men to be on the lookout for symptoms of mpox (previously called monkeypox) following the first case diagnosed in NSW since November 2022.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director, South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit, urged this group of men to remain vigilant for symptoms of mpox and to see their GP or sexual health clinic should symptoms develop and get a vaccine if they haven’t already been vaccinated.

“While our vaccination program against mpox, combined with people at risk monitoring for symptoms, has been very successful in controlling the spread in NSW, as long as cases continue in other countries there is a risk of new cases here,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“In NSW there were 56 mpox cases between May and November 2022. We believe that rapid rollout of the vaccination program to people at high risk of mpox and the reduction in the number of cases in the northern hemisphere both contributed to the lack of new cases in NSW until now.”

All cases of mpox in NSW have occurred in men who have sex with men, and most were caught when travelling overseas. This most recent case was not associated with overseas travel, so there may be some local transmission of the virus occurring.

While overseas there have been some deaths associated with mpox, all cases in NSW have recovered, and very few have required hospitalisation.

Mpox is a disease caused by a virus, usually endemic to a few African countries. Since May 2022 there has been a global outbreak of mpox with over 87,000 cases reported, mainly affecting gay or bisexual men. Mpox spreads through close person to person contact.

During this outbreak mpox often starts with small pimple-like skin lesions which then spread and develop pus then crust over. Some people experience mild fever, headache, fatigue or swollen lymph nodes. Mpox can spread to others until the lesions crust over and fresh skin covers the area.

The JYNNEOS vaccine to protect against mpox is free in NSW for eligible groups of people and is available through sexual health clinics and some s100 prescribers. For further information on who is eligible and where you can get a vaccine, please visit: Mpox (monkeypox) vaccination.

No vaccine is completely effective in preventing mpox, so people who have any of these symptoms should immediately call ahead to their GP or sexual health service for an appointment.

For more information on mpox, please visit Mpox (monkeypox).