PHOTO: NIAID - Monkeypox Virus, CC BY 2.0,

Community transmission of monkeypox in New Zealand – Expert Reaction

Two new cases of monkeypox have spread within New Zealand’s community, as opposed to previous cases where people were likely infected overseas.

The two new cases are isolating in Auckland. There is currently no confirmed link between the two cases, and no identified link to a known overseas acquired case, so health authorities consider “there is the potential for more cases to emerge.”

The SMC asked experts to comment on the news.

Professor Michael Baker, Professor of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, comments:

“Confirmed community transmission of monkeypox within New Zealand is an important milestone in the development of this outbreak here.

“It is notable that these cases are not connected to known imported cases. This observation means that there must be additional undetected cases in this country. It also means that risk of infection is no longer confined to those who have recently been overseas. Consequently, messaging around who is potentially vulnerable to this infection needs to be expanded to include people who may have been exposed to infected people in New Zealand.

“This development is not cause for major concern. Monkeypox transmission can be well managed through prompt case diagnosis, isolation, and contact tracing.

“Looking at the global epidemiology of this disease, new case numbers appear to have peaked around 12 August 2022 internationally, and have been declining steadily since then. That finding is reassuring in that it confirms that this disease is highly controllable with basic public health measures.

“The critical step is that anyone in New Zealand who has features of this infection, and is in a group at higher risk (notably men who have sex with men), needs to seek medical attention immediately so that they can be properly assessed and tested if necessary.”

No conflict of interest.

Arindam Basu, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, School of Health Sciences, University of Canterbury, comments:

“This was expected, New Zealand has been lucky with monkeypox so far. From now on, we need to be on the watch as cases will likely increase over the next two to three weeks. Once more details about the cases are released or known, it is important for people connected to the cases to take care, and practically everyone needs to be educated on the signs and symptoms of monkeypox and watch for signs of skin rash and unexplained ‘flu like’ fever. It is another matter that being the springtime does not help as other infectious diseases that affect upper respiratory tracts will continue to be reported. A high index of suspicion is needed.”

No conflicts of interest declared.