The Ministry of Health is reporting the first case of Monkeypox in New Zealand.
The person is in their 30s, lives in Auckland and has recently returned from overseas travel in a country with reported cases of Monkeypox.
There are currently 50 countries reporting cases of Monkeypox.
Given the increase in cases internationally, including Australia, the arrival in New Zealand was not unexpected.
We have already taken steps to prepare for the arrival of Monkeypox. Last month Monkeypox was officially listed as a notifiable disease enabling us to utilise the tools needed to contain any possible spread of the disease including isolation orders and readying contact tracing capabilities. A Monkeypox PCR test is available in New Zealand labs and is what has been used to detect this first case.
There are a very small number of contacts of the case who are being advised to watch for symptoms. There is no evidence of community transmission here.
To protect the privacy of the case and contacts, we won’t be providing additional information on them, but monitoring of the case continues.
Public health advice
Cases of Monkeypox outside of endemic countries have primarily been identified amongst gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men, and international cases have been clustered around events where this occurs.
As such we are asking anyone who’s been overseas and attended events connected with the spread of Monkeypox, to be aware of any symptoms and seek advice from where you normally would get health advice from, either by contacting your GP or Healthline free on 0800 611 116, or get in touch with a sexual health clinic.
The first symptoms of Monkeypox include one or more of the following: headache, acute onset of fever (>38.0C), chills, swollen lymph nodes, muscle and body aches, backache and tiredness. The characteristic rash, which typically looks similar to chicken pox, appears after a few days.
The majority of people with Monkeypox can be safely managed at home and there have been very few deaths from Monkeypox globally.
Health professionals are being reminded to remain vigilant for any possible cases of Monkeypox, particularly in people who have recently arrived from countries reporting cases.
Since reports of Monkeypox emerged internationally, the Ministry has provided information about the virus on its website. The Ministry has also provided advice to public health units, primary health organisations and sexual health clinics to assist with identifying potential cases.
Some Smallpox vaccines can provide protection against the virus.
The Ministry of Health is currently working with Pharmac to explore options for access to Smallpox vaccines that can be used as part of the targeted prevention of spread of Monkeypox in certain situations.