September 24, 2022

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The monkeypox virus is spreading in Melbourne in the first widespread example of local transmission since the global outbreak began.

Twenty people have been infected in the past two weeks as vaccine stocks remain low.

This is half of the state’s total, with 40 cases recorded since May.

The monkeypox virus is spreading in Melbourne in the first widespread example of local transmission since the global outbreak began.
The monkeypox virus is spreading in Melbourne in the first widespread example of local transmission since the global outbreak began. (9News)

It is most of any state in Australia and makes Victoria the only state with increased spread among the 89 monkeypox infections nationwide.

Victoria’s deputy chief health officer Deborah Friedman said authorities were concerned about the increase in transmission.

The disease is transmitted skin to skin but contact needs to be prolonged.

“This has been a disease that’s almost entirely affected gay and bisexual men,” sexually transmissible infection expert Professor Andrew Grulich said.

“This appears to mostly have been transmitted like a sexually transmitted infection.”

An issue has been the low supply of vaccines, as the state started to receive them 10 days ago.

“It would’ve been great if we had the vaccines earlier,” Simon Ruth from Thorne Harbour Health said.

An issue has been the low supply of vaccines, as the state started to receive them 10 days ago.
An issue has been the low supply of vaccines, as the state started to receive them 10 days ago. (9News)

“You can fly to Montreal right now and get vaccinated, but it’s hard to get vaccinated in Australia.”

The context is Europe and North America have case numbers in the thousands.

Health officials in Australia remain optimistic.

“When we do get more vaccine in September, we’re going to have over 20,000 dose,” Freidman said.

For now the focus is still returned overseas travellers checking for symptoms but once again Melbourne is in a league of its own.

“Local transmission is a whole different ball game,” Ruth said.

“It means it’s actually in the community, it means everyone is at risk.”

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