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Monkeypox, also known as MPX, is a disease caused by the Monkeypox virus or MPXV. It is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus which causes smallpox. MPX symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder and rarely fatal. Most people will recover in 2-4 weeks. 


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Monkeypox Fact-Sheet

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About Monkeypox or MPX 

Monkeypox, also known as MPX, is a disease caused by the Monkeypox virus or MPXV. It is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus which causes smallpox. MPX symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder and rarely fatal. Most people will recover in 2-4 weeks. 

More severe cases, while rare, can occur among children and people with compromised immunity. 

It is a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa and is occasionally exported to other regions. Zoonotic means it can spread between animals and humans. 

Since May 2022, there has been a global increase in MPX infections in multiple countries where the illness is not usually seen. 

The situation is evolving quickly and health authorities are monitoring closely so the most up to date evidence and advice can be provided. 

Most, but not all, cases recorded in Australia have been acquired overseas. 

Symptoms of MPX 

Monkeypox symptoms may begin with rash and sores, swollen lymph nodes, fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, chills and exhaustion. Some people only experience the rash and sores. 

While the rash often starts on the face, including in the mouth, and spreads to other parts of the body including the hands, feet, and chest, in this outbreak it is being seen especially on the genital and perianal regions of affected people. 

The rash can vary from person to person and take on the appearance of pimples, blisters or sores, which can then burst to form sores or ulcers or a scab. These can vary in size and number. 

A person is generally infectious until all scabs have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This may take several weeks, and the sores can be painful especially if they join or appear in the mouth or rectum. 

Symptoms usually begin 7-14 days after exposure. But the amount of time it takes for symptoms to show (the incubation period) can be as short as 5 days or as long as 21 days. 

How MPX spreads 

MPX spreads from one person to another by direct contact with infected bodily fluids, such as contact with the sores, or scabs on the skin, or through touching contaminated objects that the infected person has used, such as linen or clothes. It may also be transmitted during close physical contact, including sex. 

It can also be spread through prolonged face to face contact by inhaling infected respiratory droplets (for example coughing or sneezing close to another person’s face for a length of time). 

It can be passed to the foetus via the placenta during pregnancy. 

People at risk of MPX 

Anyone who has been in close contact with someone with MPX, either within Australia or overseas, is at risk. People could be exposed if they were in close, prolonged contact with a person with the disease. 

If symptoms appear, contact your GP or local healthcare provider so you can receive appropriate care and advice and minimise the risk to others. 

How to prevent MPX 

There are number of measures people can take to help prevent infection: 

• People who have MPX should isolate from others until the sores are fully cleared. 

• Household members should avoid physical contact with the infected person, including with any materials, such as linen or towels, that have been in contact with an infected person. 

• Careful hand and respiratory hygiene are recommended for the infected person and everyone in the household - including washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. 

• A face mask should be used by an infected person when in the same room as other people, if isolation is unavoidable, including when receiving medical care. 

For more information on the public health management of people with monkeypox, and on infection prevention and control for health workers, visit health.gov.au/monkeypox-mpx. 

MPX diagnosis 

Infection can be confirmed by testing a swab collected from the base of a blister from the skin rash. Advice on specimen collection and handling can be found at health.gov.au/monkeypox-mpx. 

MPX treatment 

MPX illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks and is mild. Some patients may need simple pain medicines and oral fluids, with a health care professional monitoring their symptoms. A few patients may need additional care such as intravenous fluids and medicine to control fever or pain. 

There are some medications available that may assist in treatment of people with severe illness. Australia has a vaccine and a treatment available and other options are being considered by states and territories. While rare, severe cases may need intensive care. More treatment information can be found at health.gov.au/monkeypox-mpx. 

Public health response 

Healthcare professionals in the community, hospitals and pathology practices, have been alerted to the cases of MPX in Australia. They must notify any suspected cases to the local public health unit immediately. Public health unit staff will then start an investigation, contact tracing and control measures. 

  • Practice good hand hygiene. You should pay close attention to good hand hygiene. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating and after using the toilet. If soap and water is not available use hand sanitiser regularly. Avoid shaking hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue - or cough into your elbow. Dispose of the tissue into a bin and then wash your hands afterwards. 
  • The Hong Kong Government recommends wearing a surgical mask if presenting symptoms. Also when taking public transport, flights (mostly taking off and landing) or staying in crowded places. Information on the uses, different types and efficacy of masks (WHO)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle

 

 

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