- Alert number:
- Date issued:
- 02 Aug 2023 - update to Alert issued 7 Nov 2022
- Issued by:
- Professor Ben Cowie, Acting Chief Health Officer
- Issued to:
- Health professionals and the Victorian community
- Two new locally acquired cases of mpox have been reported in Victoria.
- Mpox continues to spread in many countries. In Victoria, the risk of local transmission and transmission linked to international travel remains.
- People with symptoms of mpox should seek medical care and testing.
- Mpox vaccination is available for eligible people through certain sexual health clinics, hospitals and GPs.
- Clinicians should test for mpox in all patients presenting with compatible symptoms, in particular those presenting with a genital rash, lesions, or proctitis.
- Clinicians should offer mpox vaccination to eligible people at increased risk of infection. Two doses of vaccine are required for optimal protection.
- Any suspected or confirmed mpox case must be urgently notified to the Department of Health on .
What is the issue?
Two new locally acquired cases of mpox (previously called monkeypox) have been confirmed in Victoria this week. Prior to this, the most recent case was reported in November 2022.
Mpox is a viral infection that usually results in a mild illness. Most people recover within a few weeks. However, some people may develop severe illness and require hospitalisation.
Since May 2022, there has been a large international outbreak of mpox that is predominantly impacting men who have sex with men.
Mpox continues to spread in many countries. There has been a recent increase in case numbers in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions, including in Japan, Republic of Korea, Thailand and China. These trends and recent local cases show that there is an ongoing risk of mpox in Victoria from both local and overseas transmission.
Who is at risk?
While the current outbreak has predominantly impacted men who have sex with men, anyone who has been in close and usually prolonged intimate contact with someone with mpox is at risk.
Symptoms and transmission
Symptoms can occur up to 21 days after being exposed to mpox.
Symptoms may include fever, chills, tiredness, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and rash. The rash can appear as vesicles, pustules or ulcers and affect any part of the body, including the anogenital area. Other symptoms may include pain on urination (urethritis) or rectal pain, bloody stools and/or diarrhoea (proctitis).
Mpox can spread from person-to-person through close or prolonged skin-to-skin contact, for example during sexual contact, as well as contact with contaminated items or surfaces and respiratory droplets.
People with mpox are considered infectious from the time they develop their first symptoms and until rash lesions have crusted, scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed underneath.
For people at increased risk of mpox
- If you have symptoms of mpox, restrict contact with others and seek urgent medical care and testing from your GP or local sexual health clinic. Make sure to wear a mask, cover any exposed rash lesions and call ahead.
- Get vaccinated if you are eligible to receive the mpox vaccine.
- If you have only received one dose of the mpox vaccine, ensure you get a second dose at least 28 days after your first dose. Two doses are required for optimal protection.
- Limiting the number of sexual partners can reduce your risk of exposure to mpox.
- Exchange contact information with your sexual partners to assist with contact tracing if needed.
- Clinicians should test for mpox in all patients presenting with compatible symptoms, in particular, those presenting with a genital rash, lesions, or proctitis.
- Request mpox PCR on suitable samples such as swabs of rash lesion material (fluid or base of lesion), anorectal swab for patients presenting with proctitis or a nasopharyngeal / throat swab. Mark samples as “urgent” and send to the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) via your routine pathology provider. Approval from the Department of Health is not required for mpox testing.
- Any suspected or confirmed mpox cases should be urgently notified to the Department of Health by calling .
- In patients presenting with genital or anal lesions/symptoms, testing for other sexually transmitted infections including herpes simplex virus, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea is recommended.
- Review the mpox vaccination status of all eligible patients. Offer mpox vaccination to those who are unvaccinated and offer the second dose if they are due or overdue.
Mpox vaccine eligibility
In Victoria, the mpox vaccine (JYNNEOS®) is available free-of-charge for eligible people who meet any of the following criteria:
- Post exposure vaccination for high-risk close contacts of mpox cases.
- All sexually active gay and bisexual men (cis and trans).
- Sexual partners of the above.
- Sex workers.
- Laboratory workers who analyse specimens from mpox cases.
- Healthcare workers at higher risk of exposure to patients with mpox (following risk assessment).
How to access vaccines
Mpox vaccines are available through certain sexual health clinics, hospitals and GPs. Your Local Public Health Unit can help you find a provider in your area. Select your to locate your closest provider.
Other locations include:
Clinics may not always be able to accept new patients. Please note that while the vaccine is free of charge, consultation may not be. Please speak to the relevant clinic to verify consultation-related fees.
Reviewed 04 August 2023