Monkeypox has officially landed. It had been suspected in the Montreal area along with other locations in the U.S. and Europe, but late Thursday night, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) confirmed that there are definitely two cases of the virus in the region. Although this virus is only fatal in a very small portion of cases, the idea that this could be another public health crisis on the coat tails of a global pandemic has people concerned.
“Tonight, the Province of Quebec was notified that two samples received by the NML (National Microbiology Laboratory) have tested positive for monkeypox. These are the first two cases confirmed in Canada,” read the statement from PHAC.
The confirmation comes after collaboration between the PHAC, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Quebec’s own public health authorities in jointly investigating potential exposures and contact cases of a U.S. citizen who recently visited Montreal. Anyone in the area showing symptoms of monkeypox is being tested by the NML out of an abundance of caution.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada this is the first time that monkeypox has appeared in this country though it has occasionally popped up beyond the borders of central and West Africa where it originated in rural and rainforest regions in 1970.
According to the CDC, symptoms of monkeypox include, most obviously, a rash near the genitals and other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face and mouth. Other symptoms include fever, chills, exhaustion, muscle aches, headaches, a sore through, nasal congestion, swollen lymph nodes, and a cough.
How one gets monkeypox is still kind of an open question, but the CDC notes that it can spread to through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, and that means direct contact with a monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
You can also get it through respiratory droplets, or by touching objects and fabrics like bedding and towels that have been used by someone with monkeypox, and pass it though intimate contact like sex, or through prolonged face-to-face contact, or even hugging and kissing someone with monkeypox.
PHAC says that people should be aware of the symptoms of monkeypox and report any concerns to their doctor. In the meantime, people can lower their risk by maintaining physical distance, frequent hand and maintaining respiratory hygiene including masking.
“This is an evolving and ongoing investigation, both in Canada and around the world. More information is needed to assess if there are increased health risks to people in Canada. PHAC will continue to provide updates to the public as new information becomes available,” the release said.