A total of 112 cases of monkeypox have been reported in Canada as of Thursday, according to the country’s public health agency and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.
One case has been identified in British Columbia, four in Alberta, nine in Ontario and 98 in Quebec.
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Monkeypox is a rare disease that comes from the same family of viruses that cause smallpox, which the World Health Organization (WHO) declared eradicated worldwide in 1980.
With the vast majority of monkeypox cases in Canada in Quebec, the province has begun offering a smallpox vaccine to specific close contacts of those infected.
As of June 9, 1,622 people had been vaccinated, Quebec’s health ministry said.
Canada stopped routinely vaccinating people against smallpox in 1972.
Toronto has 23 cases under investigation Thursday, according to its public health unit.
Toronto Public Health announced the first laboratory-confirmed case of monkeypox in the city on May 26.
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More than 1,000 cases of the disease have been reported to WHO in the current outbreak outside the countries where it spreads most often. So far, twenty-nine countries have reported confirmed cases.
As the disease continues to spread around the world, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has issued a travel advisory to encourage those leaving the country to be extra careful.
“During your trip, you may be subject to procedures at your destination put in place to limit the spread of monkeypox, such as isolation, if you become infected,” the agency said in a June 8 statement.
Canadians may also have limited access to timely and appropriate health care, if they become ill, and could experience delays upon returning home, PHAC has warned.
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Monkeypox is spread through contact with wounds and items like bedding or towels that have been exposed to the virus. It can also spread through respiratory droplets, distributed through a cough or sneeze.
Although it can be transmitted through close contact during sexual activity, it is not known to be spread through semen or vaginal or rectal secretions.
The virus does not transmit as easily as the SARS-CoV-2 virus that triggered the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Symptoms mainly consist of skin lesions on the mouth and genitals, and may also include fever, headache, and joint and muscle pain, according to the WHO.
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Anyone who develops symptoms is urged to seek medical attention, wear a mask and cover lesions, and notify the clinic in advance.
“Anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, can become infected and spread the virus if they come into close contact, including intimate sexual contact with an infected person or contaminated object,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. said during a briefing last Friday.
— With files from Reuters
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