Australian health authorities have been 'warned' about a possible monkeypox outbreak after a deadly strain was detected in the US and the UK.
7 News reports that British health authorities have detected a ‘rare and unusual’ case of men in London who were seemingly ill with the disease and had no history of travelling to African countries, where the disease is prevalent.
Earlier this week, the UK’s Health Security Agency said an investigation was underway to find out how the men had become infected and if they had crossed paths with each other.
Last week, the UK reported three cases of monkeypox, including two people from the same household and the other who had previously travelled to Nigeria.
Chief Medical Adviser for the UK's Health Security Agency Dr Susan Hopkins said: "The evidence suggests that there may be transmission of the monkeypox virus in the community, spread by close contact.”
Although monkeypox isn’t known as a sexually transmitted disease, all the men found in London with the smallpox-like disease were either gay or bisexual.
Ms Hopkins warned: "We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay."
According to the NSW Health website, the rare disease is a mild form of smallpox and causes extremely painful, ugly blisters and rashes over the body.
The African-originated viral disease is highly infectious and spreads through body fluids or close face-to-face contact in breath droplets.
Macquarie University Emeritus Professor Peter Curson told Daily Mail Australia: "It really would only take one or two cases and given the tremendous amount of travel around the world now, it's quite possible we could see it in Australia."
He added: :It's certainly a serious viral infection once it's broken out and it would be very difficult to screen for it.
"We really do not fully understand what it is, how it is or what we should do."
Death rates in monkeypox outbreaks have been between 1 and 10 per cent, with most deaths occurring in younger age groups.
A man in the US also contracted monkeypox, according to STAT News.
It’s unknown if the man, who previously travelled to Canada by car from Massachusetts, is linked to the cases in the UK.
His positive results were confirmed by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, who have warned the country is likely to see a rise in cases.
Deputy director of the agency’s division of high consequence pathogens and pathology Jennifer McQuiston said: “Given that we have seen now confirmed cases out of Portugal, suspected cases out of Spain, we’re seeing this expansion of confirmed and suspect cases globally, we have a sense that no one has their arms around this to know how large and expansive it might be.
“And given how much travel there is between the United States and Europe, I am very confident we’re going to see cases in the United States.”
Featured Image Credit: REUTERS/Loren Elliott/Alamy. Alamy.