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Monkeypox: brief description and current recommendations

Please note: A vaccine against monkeypox is yet not available at CBD Doctors Melbourne. Please check this site regularly as we will announce it as soon as a vaccine is available. 

Self-limiting viral illness, lasts a few weeks and majority of infected individuals recover completely.

It can cause serious illness in immunocompromised individuals.

Monkeypox virus is similar to smallpox virus.

The virus originates from West Africa and spreads between animals and humans. Currently there is an outbreak of international concern (WHO) and there have been a few cases detected in Australia.

Transmission of monkeypox:

Transmission of monkeypox could be any of the following:

  • Close contact with rash or sores
  • Contact with body fluids
  • Contact with droplets from coughing and sneezing (rare)
  • Through contacts with objects contaminated with virus (towels)

It is not sexually transmitted but it can be transmitted through intimate and close contact

Signs and symptoms of monkeypox:

Signs and symptoms are similar to any viral illness and start 1-3 weeks after exposure (contact):

  • Distinctive rash: pimples, blisters, sores, scabs and ulcers (goes through different stages)
  • Fever, chills, headache, aches and pains, joint and back pain
  • Tiredness
  • Rash starts on face and mouth which may spread to other parts. It can also start in genital area and spread; it can be painful.
  • Infectious period starts with any symptoms of monkeypox and lasts UNTIL ALL SCABS HAVE HEALED.

Risk of contracting monkeypox:

It is a recommendation to see a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms after either coming to Australia from overseas or you have been in contact with a confirmed case in Australia.

What is the treatment for monkeypox?

ISOLATION until scabs have healed for confirmed monkeypox cases

ISOLATION of SUSPECTED case of monkeypox: at least until result of the test is negative

There is no specific treatment for monkeypox

Supportive treatment: Panadol, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, fluids

There may be a need for antiviral treatment in more severe cases


Vaccine against monkeypox:

Currently there are two vaccines against smallpox that prevent monkeypox:

  • ACAM2000
  • JYNNEOS: preferred for pre- and post-exposure (PEP, PrEP)

Please note: these vaccines will MOST LIKELY BE AVAILABLE through general practice clinics.

Current recommendation for use of monkeypox vaccine in Australia:

  • “Anyone categorised by health authorities as a high risk “
  • Men who have sex with men, bisexual men at highest risk of monkeypox (those having multiple sexual contacts, those living with HIV, recent history of engaging in group sex, men recently diagnosed with STIU, advised to start PrEP for HIV due to a number of sexual partners)
  • Sex workers
  • Anyone who has plans to visit countries with high number of cases (4-6 weeks before the trip)
  • Health care workers that provide vaccination with ACAM2000
  • Booster dose for those already vaccinated with smallpox vaccine more than 10 years ago

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