MonkeyPox warning for gay community after case identified in Sydney

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Smallpox virus, including monkeypox, chickenpox and smallpox. – Photo: Roger Harris/Science Photo Libra via AFP

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Australian men’s health authorities are urging gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men in NSW who have recently returned from overseas travel to watch for symptoms of MPXV, commonly known as ‘monkeypox’ .

The warning follows the identification by New South Wales Health of a probable case of MPXV in Sydney from a traveler recently returned to Europe.

Cases of MPXV have been confirmed in non-endemic countries in Europe and North America. This includes the UK, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, USA and Canada.

A man in his 40s in Sydney developed mild illness several days after returning to Sydney. He then presented to his GP with symptoms clinically compatible with monkeypox.

A large proportion of the cases detected abroad concern homosexuals, bisexuals or men who have sex with men.

MPXV has not previously been described as an STI although it can be spread through sexual networks through direct contact during sex and through contact with clothing or linens used by someone with MPXV.

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

“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 raise awareness of cases identified overseas and to provide advice on diagnosis and orientation. We will be talking about this issue again with the GPs today,” said Dr Chant.

Symptoms of MPXV include fever, malaise, headache, sometimes sore throat and cough, and swollen lymph nodes. Following the symptoms, the lesions begin in the mouth and spread to the face, arms and legs.

Person-to-person transmission is primarily through respiratory droplets or direct contact with lesion material.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill urges gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men to watch for symptoms, especially those who have recently traveled overseas to Europe and the United States.

“We particularly urge those who have attended dance parties, sex parties or saunas in Europe to be vigilant for compatible symptoms. Anyone with symptoms, especially a rash, should call their GP or local sexual health clinic by phone or telehealth. You can also call NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624.”

Nicolas Parkhill, CEO of ACON
Nicolas Parkhill, CEO of ACON

MPXV 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.

Certain therapies are available for the treatment of MPXV, especially for high-risk individuals such as those who are immunocompromised. However, many cases are usually mild, self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks.

With the situation evolving rapidly, Parkhill said it was essential that people remain calm and follow public health advice.

“Given what we currently know about MPXV overseas, it’s important that we stay informed, don’t panic, and make decisions that are good for our health and the health of our communities,” he said. said Parkhill.

“Our experience over the last two years of life during the pandemic shows how effective our response can be when we are guided by evidence, keep ourselves up to date, and always follow public health advice.”

Parkhill also urged people to be aware of the stigma around new outbreaks and virus infections and to challenge prejudice and discrimination.

“Through our experience of the HIV/AIDS crisis, our communities understand how devastating and hurtful the impact of prejudice and stigma can be. It’s important that we remember that viruses don’t discriminate, and neither should we.”

Last updated May 20, 2022

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