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Monkeypox and Australian travellers

July 26th, 2022

Monkeypox is a risk to only a very small cohort of travellers.

Monkeypox spreads in different ways. The virus can spread from person-to-person through:

  • direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
  • pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

Monkeypox has now been declared by WHO –  a public health emergency of international concern.

The Guardian in Australia has a good article here relevant to the Australian situation.

The CDC in USA has a very good site with information on Monkey pox 

About Vaccination

There are 2 types of smallpox vaccine and they likely provide some protection against monkeypox, but vaccination is not readily available currently in Australia. Smallpox vaccination is not needed for the VAST majority of travellers.  Travellers who have had smallpox vaccine decades before ask – will this help me? CDC says this

Previous smallpox vaccination does provide protection, but it may not necessarily be lifelong. During the 2003 monkeypox outbreak and during the current outbreak, several people who were infected with monkeypox had previously been vaccinated against smallpox decades prior.” Further information on vaccines from CDC here 

In the USA Vaccination can be given after exposure – so persons going to the USA may be able to access the vaccine there –  at festivals etc.

Tips on avoiding Monkeypox

  • Take condoms and lube ( dont use saliva )
  • Be aware of symptoms so you can seek help early – lesions are variable – They may even look like warts ( see pictures below ) – Lesions may be single or multiple. Sufferers can feel sick.
  • Limit the number of sexual partners if possible  – consider a ‘sex bubble’ like the quarantine bubble
  • Exchange contact information if possible with sexual partners for ease of tracing
  • The inactivated smallpox vaccine (that starts with a J but we are not supposed to mention trade names of medicine ) may help but is in short supply in Australia  – current estimates are it is ~65% effective with 1 dose and 85% with 2 doses – the second dose is given 28 days after first. This vaccine can help up to 4 days after exposure – but not once symptoms occur.
  • ‘TPox’ is a medicine being tested in research trial but we don’t know yet if it works


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