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Local Update On Monkeypox

NEW: June 29, 2022 - The health unit has confirmed a case of monkeypox in a person from the region. The individual lives and works mainly in Toronto where he most likely acquired the infection.  He is currently isolating, and his close contacts have been notified.

At this time, there is no detection of community spread and as the disease does not spread easily residents should not be concerned going about their routine activities. The health unit continues to closely monitor the situation and advises any person who develops symptoms or who has had contact with a suspected or known case of monkeypox to contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Individuals who are awaiting test results or have confirmed monkeypox infection must remain isolated. For further information, please refer to the health unit's guidance for self-isolation.

Monkeypox can affect anyone of any age, gender or sexual orientation. Currently, monkeypox is predominantly affecting men who have sex with men (MSM), and the most likely way it is being passed on is through close, intimate contact due to the increased skin-to-skin contact.

On June 16, 2022, the province designated monkeypox as a Disease of Public Health Significance under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. This means that healthcare providers who suspect or are investigating a case of monkeypox in one of their patients must report it to the health unit.

For the most up-to-date information about confirmed cases in Canada, visit Government of Canda's website.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It is part of the same family as smallpox, though typically less severe. It is found mostly in areas of Africa but has been seen in other areas of the world. Monkeypox causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, and a rash develops within a few days. There is no proven treatment for monkeypox, although antiviral treatment is available for severe cases. Monkeypox usually goes away on its own.

Monkeypox typically does not spread easily between people. Person-to-person spread may occur through:

  • sexual or intimate contact with an infected person
  • contact with clothing or linens (such as bedding or towels) used by an infected person
  • direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions or scabs
  • respiratory transmission from an individual with monkeypox.

The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), the respiratory tract or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth).

Monkeypox is usually a mild illness, with most people recovering on their own after a few weeks; however, some may have severe illness and need to be hospitalized. People typically develop symptoms five to 21 days after being exposed to the monkeypox virus. Symptoms occur in two stages and typically last from two to four weeks.

In stage one, symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • back pain
  • exhaustion

In stage two of the illness, a rash develops - usually within one to three days (sometimes longer) after the fever starts. The rash often starts on the face or extremities, however it can affect other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, mouth and genitals.

The rash can last between 14 and 21 days and changes through different stages before finally forming a scab which later falls off.

Imvamune® vaccine is approved in Canada for protection against monkeypox. The vaccine contains weakened virus and cannot make you sick. The vaccine can be used for protection against monkeypox before getting exposed to the virus (pre-exposure prophylaxis) or after being exposed (post-exposure prophylaxis). Read more about the vaccine here.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis:

Toronto Public Health is leading a pre-exposure prophylaxis vaccination campaign to protect those most at risk of contracting the monkeypox virus. The LGBTQ community, particularly men who have sex with men, are at a higher risk of infection.  Vaccination clinics are being offered in Toronto for all eligible individuals. The full list of clinics and who is eligible is available on Toronto Public Health’s monkeypox webpage. Eligibility for vaccination is not restricted to Toronto residents.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis:

Vaccination after exposure to monkeypox infection may prevent infection or lessen disease severity. When the vaccine is used as post-exposure prophylaxis, it should be given within four days, but can be given up to 14 days after the last exposure. Please contact your primary care provider if you are concerned that you have been exposed to monkeypox.

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