Monkeypox outbreak: Department of Health issues advice, says risk to New Zealand is low

Health workers use thermal head screening to detect a monkeypox virus on passengers arriving at Soekarno-Hatta Tangerang International Airport near Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo/Getty Images

The Department of Health advises anyone who has recently traveled to a country where monkeypox is endemic and who is suffering from a rash-like illness to seek medical attention.

The ministry said there were no suspected cases in New Zealand and it was monitoring the international situation.

The World Health Organization is reportedly calling an emergency meeting to discuss the alarming spread of the monkeypox virus around the world, according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph.

He said the United Nations health authority was bringing together leading experts on the rare disease as a number of new countries announced their first confirmed cases on Friday.

This 1997 image provided by the CDC shows the right arm and torso of a patient whose skin had a number of monkeypox lesions.  Photo/via AP
This 1997 image provided by the CDC shows the right arm and torso of a patient whose skin had a number of monkeypox lesions. Photo/via AP

Eleven countries, including Australia, the United States, Spain and Italy, have now detected monkeypox in the world’s first such outbreak.

A Victorian man is hospitalized after being diagnosed with monkeypox, while another in New South Wales is also suspected of having the virus.

In the UK, the number of monkeypox cases doubled on Friday.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health told the Herald today that the ESR (Institute of Environmental Science and Research) has assessed the risk of importation into New Zealand as low, but people should be careful s have recently traveled to an area where monkeypox is endemic or epidemic.

On its website, the ministry advised people to seek medical attention if they suffer from a rash-like illness while traveling or upon returning to New Zealand if they have blister-like lesions or sores. on their body.

Travelers to areas where monkeypox is prevalent should wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after contact with infected animals or humans. People should also avoid contact with sick or found dead animals in areas and materials, such as bedding, that have come into contact with a sick animal or person.

The ministry’s website said monkeypox is an animal-to-human virus that is endemic to parts of central and western Africa. It was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows oval-shaped mature monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right.  Photo/PA
The electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows oval-shaped mature monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right. Photo/PA

“Transmission typically occurs from animals to humans via rodents and non-human primate animal reservoirs. Although rare, monkeypox virus can be transmitted from person to person through contact close with skin lesions, bodily fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding,” the ministry said.

He said symptoms include fever, malaise, headache and sometimes a sore throat and cough, and swollen lymph nodes. The lesions start in the mouth and spread to the face, arms and legs. The incubation period is usually 6-13 days and monkeypox usually lasts 14-28 days.

The majority of cases in the UK are gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM).

The New Zealand AIDS Foundation sent out social media posts to the MSM community, advising them on how to recognize monkeypox and low risk in New Zealand.


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