The inevitable announcement of the first case of monkeypox in our public health coverage area should come with the declaimer that residents should not panic since this disease doesn’t spread anywhere close to as easily as the recent virus that caused a global pandemic. But having said that, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health has identified a local case of monkeypox, and anyone with skin-to-skin contact with such a patient should be aware.
According to Public Health, our patient is male, age 20-30, and is residing in Guelph. Public health staff are in the process of completing follow-up treatment and contacting anyone else who might be at risk from this case, including those who may require vaccination against the virus.
“There is no increased risk of monkeypox to the general public stemming from this case,” said Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum in a media statement. “The virus is primarily transmitted through contact with fluid from the virus’ lesions, so it is important to be aware and take necessary precautions if you are in intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox lesions.”
While monkeypox can spread through droplets, it requires one to be a bit closer than breathing distance with someone who is infected to give you the virus. According to the World Health Organisation, you have to have close physical contact with someone who is infected in order to become infected by monkeypox yourself.
“The rash, bodily fluids (such as fluid, pus or blood from skin lesions) and scabs are particularly infectious. Clothing, bedding, towels or objects like eating utensils/dishes that have been contaminated with the virus from contact with an infected person can also infect others,” says the W.H.O. “Ulcers, lesions or sores in the mouth can also be infectious, meaning the virus can spread through saliva. People who closely interact with someone who is infectious, including health workers, household members and sexual partners are therefore at greater risk for infection.”
How do you know if you have monkeypox? Public Health says look for a fever, headache, fatigue, and a rash and/or lesions, which may appear on the face or genitals and then spread to other areas. Most people who catch monkeypox recover in two-to-four weeks without treatment, but there are vaccine treatments available as well. Since monkeypox is an offshoot of the smallpox virus, most smallpox vaccines offer some protection against monkeypox according to the W.H.O.
For now though, public health says on that subject that, “no action is required by members of the public with respect to this case, but the public should be aware of monkeypox symptoms and contact their primary care provider immediately if they have any concerns.”
So far, there have been just 168 cases of monkeypox in Canada. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there have been 141 cases reported in Quebec, 21 in Ontario, four in Alberta and two in British Columbia as of Friday. All cases so far have been reported in men, but that’s within an age range of 20 to 69.