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The first case of mpox virus in five months has been reported in New South Wales, Australia. The health authority has warned that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men may be at particular risk of contracting the virus and should be vigilant for symptoms. Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director of South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit, has advised the at-risk group to seek immediate medical attention if they notice symptoms. Although the vaccination program has been successful in controlling the spread of the virus in NSW, there is still a risk of new cases as long as it continues to exist in other countries.
In addition to being vigilant for symptoms, men who are susceptible to mpox virus have been advised to get vaccinated if they haven’t already. According to Dr Vicky Sheppeard, the rapid rollout of vaccination programs to high-risk groups and the reduction in cases in the northern hemisphere contributed to the lack of new cases in NSW until now. Last year, a global mpox outbreak was confirmed, with over 87,000 cases reported worldwide, and there were 56 recorded cases in NSW between May and November, all of which occurred in men who have sex with men and were infected during international travel.
The Mpox virus causes an infection known as monkeypox. It is not highly contagious and typically requires prolonged physical or skin-to-skin contact with an infected person to spread. Since May 2022, there has been a global outbreak of Mpox, with men who have sex with men being the most affected group.
The virus continues to spread in many countries, including in Victoria, where the risk of local transmission linked to international travel remains. If you experience symptoms, it is recommended that you seek medical care and testing and limit your contact with others until you receive your test results.
Are you familiar with the symptoms of mpox?
Symptoms may develop up to 21 days after close contact with someone with the virus.
Some of the symptoms of mpox can include a painful rash that affects various parts of the body, including the genitals, anus and buttocks, mouth, face, hands and arms, and feet and legs. The rash may involve vesicles, pustules, pimples, or ulcers, and the number of lesions can vary. Other symptoms can include fevers, chills, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, headache, sore throat, anal and rectal pain, and pain on urination.
It’s worth noting that symptoms can resemble sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as herpes or syphilis, as well as other diseases with a rash such as measles or chickenpox. While most people with mpox have a mild illness and recover within a few weeks, some may develop severe disease and require hospitalization.
Children, pregnant women, and people with a weakened immune system are considered to be at higher risk of developing severe disease. Remember to seek medical care and testing if you experience any of these symptoms, especially if you have had close contact with someone who has mpox.
Vaccination for Mpox?
Victoria now has an increased supply of vaccines, and people who received their first dose at least 28 days ago are now eligible for their second dose. Australian health authorities are closely monitoring the outbreak and providing updates as new information becomes available. Vaccination is available free-of-charge to eligible individuals through Local Public Health Units, certain sexual health clinics, and health services.
How can Mpox (monkeypox) be prevented?
To prevent mpox, one should avoid contact with infected individuals and any
materials that may be contaminated. Vaccination is recommended, especially for those at high risk, and it’s advised to limit sexual partners and maintain good hygiene practices.
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