Testing for the Monkeypox (MPX) virus has become more critical following the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring MPX a public health emergency of international concern and Australia declaring the situation a communicable disease incident of national significance.
The rise of the disease has put the spotlight on testing with NATA once again at the forefront of accreditation. Since May 2022, there has been a global increase in MPX infections in multiple countries where the illness is not usually seen, including Australia where MPX was first reported in May 2022.
There are currently 2 laboratories accredited by NATA in Australia for Monkeypox testing in Human Pathology, the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory and the Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services (QHFSS).
We expect more laboratories to seek accreditation for testing of Monkeypox.
What is Monkeypox (MPX)?
MPX is a zoonotic disease; a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans. MPX is endemic to parts of Africa but can spread to other regions. The recent outbreak has been detected in the UK, Europe, northern America and the Middle East and other areas where it is not usually found.
MPX is a ‘virus’ and part of the same family of viruses which causes smallpox. MPX is a rare viral illness that can become serious, however, for most people, symptoms will clear up on their own after 2 to 4 weeks. Transmission of the MPX virus occurs when a person comes into contact with the virus from an animal, human, or materials contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).
What is the WHO’s position on MPX?
On July 23, 2022, the WHO declared the MPX outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. This rare designation means the WHO now views the outbreak as a significant enough threat to global health that a coordinated international response is needed.
In excess of 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported across more than 70 countries so far in 2022, and the number of confirmed infections rose 77% from late June through early July, according to WHO data.
More information is available on the WHO website: https://bit.ly/3OZzfID
What is Australia’s position on MPX?
On 26 July 2022, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, declared the MPX situation a communicable disease incident of national significance. This follows the WHO declaring the global situation regarding MPX to be a public health emergency of international concern. The Australian declaration was made under the Emergency Response Plan for Communicable Disease Incident of National Significance in consultation with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.
As of August 04, 2022, there are 53 cases (confirmed and probable) of MPX which have been diagnosed in Australia and reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) by states and territories.
This includes 30 in New South Wales, 19 in Victoria, 2 in the Australian Capital Territory, 1 in Queensland and 1 in South Australia.
On August 04, 2022, more than 400,000 monkeypox jabs were ordered by the federal government in a bid to contain the outbreak with the first shots to be given as early as the week commencing August 7, 2022.
Visit the MPX vaccines page to find out more about vaccinations and www.nata.com.au to learn more about NATA MPX accredited laboratories and our accreditation services.