The New South Wales Ministry of Health has urged the local community to be aware of monkeypox symptoms following a local transmission of the virus in Australia.

New South Wales (NSW) has recorded eleven cases of monkeypox, based on the latest data. But while nine of the cases were likely to have been acquired overseas, two could have been contracted locally.

Dr. Jeremy McAnulty, NSW Health’s executive director of Health Protection, said that people need to watch out for any possible symptoms, especially men who have sex with men.

“People need to be aware of the symptoms of monkeypox, which can include fever, headache, body aches and a rash or lesions on the genital area. So far, in the cases we have seen in NSW, monkeypox is not presenting the way some people expect, such as an extensive rash or lesions all over the body,” he said.

“It could just be a couple of what seem to be pimples in the genital area or buttocks, so people need to pay careful attention to any potential symptoms.”

According to McAnulty, people experiencing the symptoms should immediately set an appointment with their physician or sexual health service.

“The virus is mainly spread through skin-to-skin contact with the lesions or rarely through close contact with large respiratory droplets from a person early on in their infection,” he said, adding that people with symptoms should avoid close contact with others.

Sexual activity is also discouraged since condoms are not effective enough in preventing the transmission of the disease.

A rare viral infection previously associated with travel to Central and West Africa, the initial monkeypox outbreak started in May 2022. Since then, the cases have increased, many of which are from men who have sex with men.

Infection is diagnosed by getting the blister fluid or scabs from the skin rash tested. Usually, the symptoms begin seven to 14 days after exposure, with most people recovering within a couple of weeks.

Everyone is encouraged to be cautious and alert to any possible symptoms.