Updated 13 August 2022 | Approved By Dr. Umberto Russo
What is Monkeypox Virus?Monkeypox is a condition that is caused when infected with the Monkeypox Virus. This virus is considered a viral zoonosis, which can be transmitted from animals to humans. According to the World Health Organization, animals such as monkeys, squirrels and rats carry this virus . The first instance of Monkeypox occurred in Congo in 1970. Since then, it has spread across multiple countries worldwide. Since 2022, a global Monkeypox virus outbreak has led to the World Health Organisation declaring this health condition as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern .
Is Monkeypox in Australia?Yes. The first Australian to contract Monkeypox was diagnosed on the 20th of May by a man who had developed mild symptoms after returning to Sydney after travelling from Europe . You can keep up with the current status of Monkeypox in Australia by following the Department of Health and Aged Care website by the Australian Government.
Monkeypox Virus SymptomsSymptoms of Monkeypox will typically occur an average of 8.5 days after being infected. According to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, people are infectious while having a rash and can remain infectious for typically two weeks . Listed below is a list of common early symptoms experienced by people diagnosed with Monkeypox.
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches and back pain
- A lack of energy
How Do You Get Monkeypox?
Is Monkeypox Contagious?Yes, the Monkeypox Virus is contagious from human to human. It is typically contagious when symptoms first appear (e.g. fever, headaches, etc.) until the rash has fully healed. On average, there is a 2-4 week period where infected individuals can still spread the virus .
How is Monkeypox transmitted?According to the World Health Organisation , Monkeypox can be transmitted from infected animals or humans. Typically, humans can catch Monkeypox Virus after direct contact with infected animals' blood, body fluids and/or rashes. Eating undercooked meat or animal products can also lead to transmission . On the other hand, the human-to-human spread of Monkeypox occurs from close contacts, such as :
- Contact with skin rashes or sores from an infected person
- Breathing in infected air particles after prolonged exposure (e.g. face-to-face meetings, intimate activities, etc.)
- Touched infected objects (e.g. clothes, blankets, etc.)
- Passing the virus to the baby during pregnancy
Monkeypox Virus Tests and DiagnosisIf you are showing symptoms of Monkeypox, you must self-isolate and seek immediate medical attention from a GP. Your GP will ask you a series of questions and assess your circumstances to determine whether you may have contracted the virus. It is recommended that you do not attend a health service in-person to prevent any potential spread. 24-7 Medcare offers telehealth GP from the comforts of your own home. Our GPs can guide you through what tests you may need. Typically, a swab of your rashes, sores and or other affected areas may be required for laboratory analysis known as PCR (polymerase chain reaction). A sample of your tissue called a biopsy might also be needed if necessary. Your GP may also recommend other tests to help differentiate between other possible conditions, such as syphilis, allergies and chickenpox.
Monkeypox TreatmentAfter appropriate testing and receiving your diagnosis, Australian GPs have been given some guidance about potential treatment options.
MedicationsCurrently, there is no specific treatment for Monkeypox. However, your GP may recommend simple medications to help manage mild to moderate symptoms. Those who are severely ill may require more specialised medications.
VaccinationCurrently, there is no specific vaccination against Monkeypox. However, vaccination against Smallpox may be effective in preventing Monkeypox. These two viruses are related, with Monkeypox being less fatal .
PreventionPrevention is better than cure, and awareness about transmission will help lower the risk of the virus spreading. Lower your risk of getting Monkeypox by :
- Self-isolation of infected person(s)
- Minimising contact and handling of wild animal(s) - especially in Central and Western African countries
- Avoid close contact with individuals with rashes that could be Monkeypox (e.g. sexual activities, avoid sharing food and clothes, etc.)
- Regularly wash your hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based sanitiser.
Self-CareIf you have contracted Monkeypox, it's also essential to look after your mental, physical and general wellbeing. Being healthy is crucial for helping your body fight against the virus. Below are some tips that may help you manage Monkeypox whilst you are self-isolating :
- Keeping hydrated and eating well
- Getting enough sleep
- Keeping your rashes dry and clean
- Cleaning your hands regularly
- Using over-the-counter or prescribed medications to manage your symptoms
- Exercise if you feel you are well enough
- Staying connected with relatives and friends
- Seek medical support if required
RecoveryAlthough related to Smallpox, Monkeypox is less transmissible and fatal . Most people who are diagnosed with Monkeypox experience mild symptoms and sickness. According to the World Health Organisation , it takes around 2-4 weeks to recover from this virus fully. However, some people are left with discolouration or scarring of the skin .
ComplicationsWhile most people suffer from mild symptoms, some experience short and/or long-term complications. Examples of these complications include :
- Skin infections
- Scarring and deformation of the skin
- Vision loss
- Respiratory and breathing problems
- Blood infection
- Encephalitis (swelling and inflammation of the brain)
Receiving quality care from highly experienced doctors is essential for a prompt diagnosis and receiving the correct medical treatment. With 24-7 MedCare, you can experience telemedicine from the convenience of your own home. Our friendly online doctors will be available 24/7 for a consultation, anytime and anywhere in Australia.
To make a telehealth appointment booking, simply click on the button below.
- Moore MJ, Rathish B, Zahra F. Monkeypox. [Updated 2022 Jul 16]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK574519/