Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Monkeypox added to notifiable disease schedule

Monkeypox will be added to New Zealand’s schedule of notifiable diseases after a decision by the Government today.

“While no cases of monkeypox have been detected in New Zealand so far, we are making sure we’re as prepared as possible if any cases do appear here”, Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today.

Designating monkeypox as a notifiable disease means we can utilise the tools needed to contain any possible spread of the disease including contact tracing and isolation orders. Medical professionals are now also required to notify the Medical Officer of Health about any known or suspected cases.

“We continue to monitor the global situation and keep in close contact with our international partners and officials abroad. The first cluster of cases was identified in the United Kingdom in May. Since 2 June 2022, over 780 cases have since been identified across 27 countries,” said Dr Verrall.

Monkeypox is a viral disease that typically begins with symptoms such as a fever, chills, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes and exhaustion. A blister-like rash or lesions then typically appear on the face and spread to other parts of the body. The rash goes through several stages – like chickenpox – before finally becoming a scab that falls off.

“My message to New Zealanders who have recently returned from overseas is to continue practicing good hand hygiene and if you develop any monkeypox symptoms – especially if you develop a rash along with a fever and swollen lymph nodes – isolate from others and seek advice from the place you normally would get health advice from by contacting your GP or ring Healthline free on 0800 611 116, or getting in touch with a sexual health clinic,” Dr Ayesha Verrall said.

“The Ministry of Heath has already developed monkeypox testing protocols in partnership with the New Zealand Microbiology Network and a PCR test should be available at ESR by later this week.”

The Ministry has also established an initial monkeypox assessment team and will continue to monitor the situation and establish an outbreak response if one or more cases are identified in New Zealand.

More information can be found on the Ministry of Health website: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/monkeypox.

Latest Articles