print header

Local Update On Monkeypox

UPDATED July 2023: Currently the risk of MPOX (formerly known as monkeypox) to residents of Simcoe Muskoka is very low.

The health unit continues to closely monitor the situation and advise anyone who develops symptoms or who has had contact with a suspected or known case of MPOX to contact their healthcare provider immediately.

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

NEW: The Ministry of Health has updated the MPOX vaccine (Imvamune®) Guidance for Health Care Providers (Version 3.0 – September 30, 2022) to reflect expanded eligibility for Imvamune®. For details, see the MPOX vaccine (Imvamune®) eligibility expansion expander bar below.

NOTE: ​Although there is good protection after one dose of Imvamune (MPOX vaccine), to have optimal protection, it is recommended to get two doses, at least 28 days apart.  Pre-exposure prophylaxis vaccine is available by appointment at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Barrie office to protect those most at risk of contracting the MPOX virus. For details, see the MPOX vaccine and clinics expander bar below.

MPOX is a rare disease caused by the Monkeypox virus (MPXV). It is part of the same family as smallpox, though typically less severe. Previously, it was found mostly in areas of Africa but since May 2022, has been seen in many other areas of the world. Globally, including Canada and Ontario, there has been an increase in MPOX in 2023. MPOX causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, and a rash develops within a few days. There is no proven treatment and MPOX usually goes away on its own, although antiviral treatment may be used for severe hospitalized cases. A vaccine is available for prevention or post-exposure to the virus. 

Monkeypox (MPOX) can be transmitted person-to-person through:

  • direct contact with MPOX skin lesions or scabs
  • sexual or intimate contact with an infected person (skin to skin or bodily fluids)
  • contact with clothing or linens (such as bedding or towels) used by an infected person
  • respiratory transmission from an individual with MPOX (talking, breathing, kissing)

The virus enters the body through direct contact between the individual's skin/mucus membranes and a case's skin lesion(s)/scab(s), mucus membranes, respiratory secretions, or body/biological fluids.

MPOX is contagious until lesion scabs have fallen off and new intact skin has formed below the scab. This process usually takes 2-4 weeks.

Monkeypox (MPOX) 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 MPOX virus. Symptoms occur in two stages and typically last from 2-4 weeks.

In stage one, symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • back pain
  • exhaustion
  • sore throat and cough

In stage two of the illness, a rash develops - usually within 1-3 days (sometimes longer) after the fever starts. The rash usually starts on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body which can include the hands, feet, mouth, and genitals. Some people experience an atypical MPOX illness presentation starting with genital, perianal, or oral rash/lesion(s) which may start before other typical signs and symptoms of MPOX.

The rash can last between 2-4 weeks and changes through different stages before finally forming a scab which later falls off.

Imvamune® vaccine is approved in Canada for protection against monkeypox (MPOX). The vaccine contains weakened virus and cannot make you sick. The vaccine can be used for protection against MPOX 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:

SMDHU is continuing to offer pre-exposure prophylaxis vaccination clinics to protect those most at risk of contracting the MPOX virus. The clinics will offer both first and second doses (at least 28 days from first dose) for those currently eligible for pre-exposure vaccination.

Please use this online form to request an appointment.

Due to limited supply and vaccine logistics, vaccination appointments will be available out of the Barrie location.

Additional information regarding MPOX and MPOX vaccination as well as who is eligible for vaccination is available on the Gay Men's Sexual Health Alliance website.  

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis:

Vaccination after exposure to MPOX 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 MPOX.

The Ministry of Health has updated the Monkeypox Vaccine (Imvamune®) Guidance for Health Care Providers (Version 3.0 – September 30, 2022) to reflect expanded eligibility for Imvamune®.

The following is a summary of the updates:
Use of Imvamune® in Ontario

  • Given the current epidemiology in Ontario, Imvamune® is being offered as a two-dose primary series, with at least 28 days between first and second doses for individuals currently eligible for pre-exposure or post-exposure vaccination.
  • The following groups are now eligible for first doses of Imvamune® vaccine for pre-exposure prophylaxis:

a. Two-spirited, non-binary, transgender, cis-gender, intersex, or gender-queer individuals who self-identify or have sexual partners who self-identify as belonging to the gay, bisexual, pansexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) community AND at least one of the following:

  • Had a confirmed sexually transmitted infection within the last year;
  • Have or are planning to have two or more sexual partners or are in a relationship where at least one of the partners may have other sexual partners;
  • Have attended venues for sexual contact (i.e. bath houses, sex clubs) recently or may be planning to, or who work/volunteer in these settings; or
  • Have had anonymous sex (e.g. using hookup apps) recently or may be planning to; and/or
  • Are a sexual contact of an individual who engages in sex work.

b. Individuals who self-identify as engaging in sex work or are planning to, regardless of self-identified sex or gender.

c. Household and/or sexual contacts of those identified for PrEP eligibility in parts (a) and (b) above AND are moderately to severely immunocompromised or pregnant may be at higher risk for severe illness from a monkeypox infection may be considered for PrEP and should contact their healthcare provider (or their local public health unit) for more information.

d. Research laboratory employees working directly with replicating orthopoxviruses, are eligible to receive two doses of Imvamune® vaccine at least 28 days apart as PEP or PrEP if there is an ongoing risk of exposure. For PrEP, referral letter is required.

Individuals who have had a Previous Monkeypox (MPOX) Infection:

  • Individuals who have been a confirmed case of MPOX in the current outbreak are NOT recommended to receive the Imvamune® vaccine at this time; this is based on the limited utility of the vaccine given that these persons are expected to have natural immunity due to recent infection.

Individuals with History of Previous Smallpox Vaccine:

  • Individuals eligible for Imvamune® as PreP or PEP who previously received either an older generation replicating (live) smallpox vaccine or Imvamune® vaccine can be re-vaccinated:

a. For individuals with a history of receiving 1 dose of a live smallpox vaccine, a single dose of Imvamune® is recommended.

b. For individuals who completed a 2-dose series of Imvamune® more than 2 years ago, a single booster dose of Imvamune® is recommended.

c. For individuals who completed a 2-dose series of Imvamune® within the last 2 years, no further doses are recommended.

Did you find what you were looking for today?
What did you like about this page?
How can we improve this page?

If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

Thanks for your feedback.
Failed to submit comment. Please try submitting again or contact us at the Health Unit.
Comment already submitted ...