SYDNEY, May 20 (Reuters) – Australia on Friday reported its first monkey case on a recent trip to Britain, and a possible case of infection has been identified through screening tests.
A 30-year-old man who arrived in Melbourne on Monday has the virus, the Victoria Department of Health said, and the case may have been identified in Sydney by a 40-year-old man who recently visited Europe.
Both men became slightly ill after returning from Australia with symptoms associated with monocypox, health officials said.
“Just to reassure the public, it is not a form of transmission like COVID or the flu, where it passes quickly,” New South Wales provincial health official Kerry Chant told reporters.
Monkeypox cases have been identified in a number of non-viral countries in recent weeks, including Britain, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Canada and the United States.
Monkeypox, found mainly in west and central Africa, is a rare virus that resembles human smallpox, although it is mild. It was first recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1970’s. Crime rates in West Africa have skyrocketed over the past decade.
Symptoms include fever, headache and skin rashes that start on the face and spread throughout the body. Humans can become infected by the monkey by becoming very close to those who are infected.
Australian health officials have taken steps to identify and manage any monopoly cases including clinical warnings to doctors and hospitals, Chant said.