Monkeypox: HMRI Researcher Josh Davis gives the facts

Sep 12 2022

Some 124 cases of monkeypox have been identified in Australia since May 2022. 

This includes 64 in Victoria, 48 in New South Wales, 5 in Western Australia, 3 in Queensland, 2 in the Australian Capital Territory, and 2 in South Australia.

HMRI researcher and infectious disease expert Professor Josh Davis believes monkeypox is not in the same ballpark as COVID-19 but it’s good to be cautious. 

Monkeypox, which is sometimes described as the cousin of smallpox, is less transmissible than COVID-19 and is spread mainly through skin-to-skin contact. It’s a viral disease that occurs primarily in Central and West Africa.  

Symptoms include fever, aches and pains (“flu-like illness”); followed by a rash and usually appear 7-14 days after infection.

The rash is similar to smallpox, but is usually only in one small area (usually the genitals or peri-anally): small little lumps that turn into pustules that crust over and heal in about 3 weeks. 

Professor Davis said only one case had acquired the infection in NSW, and two others were infected in Australia.

At the moment the infection is spreading mainly in men who have sex with other men, but the virus has been seen in a small number of women and children.

The mortality rate in Australia is well under 1%, and it’s not clear if that’s because healthy adults are the main people being infected.

“I don’t think this is going to spread into broad aspects of the general population,” Professor Davis said.
“But it’s important for us to get hold of vaccines, vaccinate high risk people, and get the health messaging out there to anyone who thinks they might have symptoms to go and get a check up at their GP or sexual health clinic, and to stay home and isolate for 21 days if they’ve got suspected or proven monkeypox.”

For more information about monkeypox, including what you should do if you are experiencing symptoms, visit the NSW Health Monkeypox Factsheet.