Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people. To date, most cases of monkeypox have occurred in Central or West Africa.
What you need to know in the ACT
Cases of monkeypox have been identified in several non-endemic countries in recent weeks, including several European countries, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
Confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported in Australia. Currently no cases have been reported in the ACT.
ACT Health has issued a clinician alert to GPs and hospitals to provide advice on referral and diagnosis.
How monkeypox spreads
Monkeypox does not easily spread between people. However, it may occur through skin-to skin contact, contact with infected surfaces or items, and respiratory transmission.
Transmission can occur with very close contact with infected people (such as skin-to skin contact during intimate or sexual contact) and can also spread through respiratory transmission (such as prolonged face-to-face contact) and contact with infected surfaces (such as contaminated clothing, towels or furniture).
The incubation period typically varies from 6 – 13 days from exposure but may be up to 21 days.
Symptoms of the illness caused by the monkeypox virus can include fever, chills, muscle aches, backache and swollen lymph nodes.
Following these symptoms, a distinctive blistering rash usually develops, that spreading to other parts of the body.
The rash changes and goes through different stages, like chickenpox, before becoming a scab.
Anyone who develops symptoms, should stay at home and phone their GP clinic to organise a telehealth appointment in the first instance, or they can phone the Canberra Sexual Health Clinic on (02) 5124 2184.
If you need to attend an in-person appointment as part of a diagnosis, you should wear a mask and cover any lesions.
For health professionals
Clinicians are asked to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms consistent with monkeypox, particularly in returned travellers or individuals with a clinically compatible rash.
If monkeypox is suspected, immediately contact the on-call Microbiologist through the Canberra Hospital switchboard to discuss the case, testing and initial management.