Monday June 6, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 2:25 pm]
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends
The first case of monkeypox has been confirmed in BC, lab-test confirmed in a Vancouver resident, by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC).
BC CDC has today posted on Twitter: “A case of monkeypox has been confirmed in B.C. through laboratory testing at the BC Centre for Disease Control and awaiting confirmation at the National Microbiology Laboratory. Vancouver Coastal Health is conducting public health follow-up.” | See Monkeypox information by BC Centre for Disease Control
BC Centre for Disease Control is awaiting further confirmation from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
Vancouver Coastal Health is conducting a public health follow-up, a news release said.
Number of cases in Canada:
Today Health Minister Dix told media that there are 56 monkeypox cases in Canada (54 of those in Quebec). However, as of June 3, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) lists 77 cases of monkeypox in Canada (71 in Quebec, 5 in Ontario, 1 in Alberta).
Until recently, the disease was found only in West Africa. One or more ‘spreader’ events (gatherings / parties) are reported to have occurred in Europe, and through global travel things spread from there.
More than 700 cases of monkeypox infection have been found in non-endemic countries since May 2022, with the majority identified in Europe, says BC CDC.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with provinces, territories and international partners, including the World Health Organization, to actively monitor the situation. Global efforts are focused on containment of the outbreak and the prevention of further spread.
A viral disease:
Monkeypox is a viral disease. The virus enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or the mucous membranes (e.g., eyes, nose, or mouth).
While most, but not all, recent global infections are among young men who identify as men who have sex with other men, the virus can affect anyone through close person-to-person contact, says BC CDC.
How it spreads:
Monkeypox can spread in three ways: from animals to humans, from person to person and through contaminated objects, says the BC CDC.
- Monkeypox is spread through contact with sores and items like bedding or towels that have monkeypox virus. It can also spread through respiratory droplets such as coughs and sneezes during close, face-to-face contact with a person who has monkeypox.
- Monkeypox is not known to be transmitted sexually. This means the virus does not spread through semen, vaginal or rectal fluids and is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can spread through close contact during sexual activity.
Smallpox vaccine is effective:
So far, PHAC has indicated that the smallpox vaccine is effective to prevent against monkeypox. Canada maintains a supply of smallpox vaccine.
PHAC says smallpox was eradicated in 1977. There are no animal reservoirs of variola virus and the last human case occurred in 1978. A case of smallpox anywhere in the world constitutes a global health emergency, says PHAC.
In 2020, Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry was excited to recognize the 40th anniversary of the eradication of smallpox in Canada.
Monkeypox is usually a mild illness and most people recover on their own after a few weeks. However, in some situations people may become very sick and death may occur.
People usually develop monkeypox symptoms 5 to 21 days after being exposed to the monkeypox virus. Symptoms occur in 2 stages and typically last from 2 to 4 weeks.
In stage 1, symptoms may include:
- swollen lymph nodes
- muscle pain
- joint pain
- back pain
In stage 2 of the illness, a rash develops – usually within 1 to 3 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 usually lasts between 14 and 28 days and changes through different stages before finally forming a scab which later falls off.
You can be contagious from onset of first symptoms until scabs have fallen off on their own and the skin is healed.
If you become ill:
Call a health care provider immediately if:
- you develop symptoms of monkeypox
- you have had contact with a known or suspect monkeypox case
If you have been diagnosed with monkeypox, you should isolate until all scabs have fallen off and have healed. Until your lesions resolve, you are still able to infect those around you.