Sunday, April 14, 2024

Monkeypox medicine secured for NZ

The Government has secured 504 courses of the monkeypox (MPX) medicine, tecovirimat, which is expected to be available in New Zealand from late September.

“This medicine will be free and used to treat those who become unwell with MPX,” said Associate Minister of Health, Ayesha Verrall. 

“While New Zealand doesn’t currently have any active cases of MPX, and the risk of widespread transmission is low it is important we are prepared.  

“Sometimes people with the virus experience painful lesions and some people may require hospital level care. This medicine will help those people.”

Dr Verrall said Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand is also working with Pharmac to secure a supply of a smallpox vaccine known as Imvanex or Jynneos, which is effective against monkeypox.

‘While most people with MPX will be able to isolate and recover fine at home, having access to this medicine provides assurance that we can assist people who could be more impacted by MPX,” the Minister said.

She said treatment was just a small part of New Zealand’s preparation for a potential MPX outbreak.

The Public Health Agency and Te Whatu Ora have taken a holistic approach ranging from prevention and preparation messaging, testing availability, contract tracing and providing support to those who contract it and need to isolate, said Dr Verrall.

“Testing for MPX can be carried out at sexual health or family planning clinic as well as a general medical practice. The test itself is just a quick swab of any lesions on your skin and/or a throat swab.”

“We are also working hard to secure access to a vaccine, but there is limited global supply and distribution is being prioritised to those countries experiencing outbreaks, which we currently aren’t. 

“While MPX is not as contagious as some other diseases, such as measles or COVID-19, it is still key that if you develop symptoms you stay home, self-isolate and seek advice. Many illnesses can cause similar symptoms so it may not be MPX, but it’s important to get help,” said Dr Verrall. 

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