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Australia’s chief medical officer changes advice on monkeypox virus

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has declared monkeypox an 'incident of national significance'

Australia’s top doctor sounds the alarm over monkeypox, calling it an ‘incident of national significance’ – here’s what it means for you

  • Australian CMO declares monkeypox ‘incident of national significance’
  • Professor Paul Kelly’s statement means the virus will require national policy
  • Two smallpox vaccines have been recommended to protect against smallpox
  • Australia has recorded 44 cases of monkeypox, mostly from foreign tourists

Australia’s top doctor has declared monkeypox an “incident of national significance” despite the country seeing just 44 cases.

Professor Paul Kelly’s dramatic announcement on Thursday means the virus will now require national policy, intervention and public messaging – not unlike how Covid was dealt with.

The paltry number of cases in Australia is in stark contrast to infections overseas, with it spreading across Europe and the US, where more than 1,000 new cases have been reported.

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has declared monkeypox an 'incident of national significance'

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has declared monkeypox an ‘incident of national significance’

The statement follows the World Health Organization’s announcement on Wednesday that the monkeypox virus is to be considered a “public health emergency of international concern”.

More than 20,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 71 countries that have no previous record of the virus, including Australia, where 44 cases have been reported.

The virus has been around for many years, but is usually found in parts of West and Central Africa where it is endemic, meaning it circulates regularly among the population.

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Most cases in Australia have been reported in returning international travellers.

But Mr Kelly assured Australians the virus was far less harmful than Covid, with serious illness or death highly unlikely.

“Measles also don’t transmit in the same way as Covid and are much less transmissible,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern” on Wednesday.

“The monkeypox rash and flu-like symptoms are relatively mild and in most cases resolve on their own within two to four weeks without the need for specific treatment.”

Monkeypox can cause a wide variety of symptoms that vary in severity from case to case.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy and swollen lymph nodes.

These symptoms are accompanied by a rash identified by purulent lesions that lasts two to three weeks.

The World Health Organization says that a person is no longer infectious once the lesions “have crusted over, scabs have fallen off, and a new layer of skin has formed underneath.”

The virus can spread from animals to humans and from person to person through body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated surfaces.

Australia's Immunization Technical Advisory Group recommends two smallpox vaccines to protect against monkeypox virus

Australia’s Immunization Technical Advisory Group recommends two smallpox vaccines to protect against monkeypox virus

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization has recommended the use of two smallpox vaccines to immunize the population against smallpox in response to growing concerns.

Two specific vaccines he recommends are the third generation JYNNEOS and the second generation ACAM2000.

“Monkey pox is usually a disease that goes away on its own and most people recover within a few weeks. However, serious illness can occur, especially in immunocompromised people,” it said.

ALSO READ:  How monkeypox has spread to almost every American state

ATAG-recommended vaccine supplies have been secured by some states and territories.

Professor Kelly said the majority of cases in Australia were found in men who had sex with men, which was also reported overseas.

FAST FACTS ABOUT MONKEYS

What is it?

Monkey pox is a viral infection that spreads from animals to humans and from human to human.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of the disease are a rash that can last two to three weeks.

It is found on the face, hands, feet, eyes, mouth, neck, groin, and genital and/or anal areas of the body.

The most common symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, and swollen lymph nodes.

The severity of symptoms varies from case to case. Some people experience mild symptoms, while others experience severe symptoms.

Persons at higher risk of serious diseases include pregnant women, children and the immunocompromised.

Can you die from monkey pox?

Most cases of monkeypox clear up on their own within a few weeks. However, severe cases of the disease can lead to serious complications or death.

Newborns, children, and people with underlying immune problems may be at risk of more severe symptoms and death from monkeypox.

Complications of the disease can include secondary skin infections, pneumonia, confusion, and eye problems.

Source: World Health Organization

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