Although the risk is low, it’s a bit scary after our experience with Covid-19. On Wednesday, July 27, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR District Health Unit) reported the first lab-confirmed case of the Monkeypox virus in the region. It involves a resident from Northumberland County (no indication whether it’s in Cobourg). The person with the virus is “currently recovering and in isolation”. Also, “the HKPR District Health Unit has also completed follow-up with this individual and has contacted anyone else who may have had close contact with this case, including those who may require vaccination against the virus.” Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health said that “we are notifying and following up with all close contacts. The risk to the public is low.”
Background from HKPR Release
Monkeypox is a viral disease mainly found in countries in central and west Africa. Recently, monkeypox cases have been detected in other countries where it is not usually seen, including Canada. Provincially in its latest update on July 26, Public Health Ontario reports 326 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Ontario, with more than three-quarters of these cases reported in Toronto. On July 23, the World Health Organization’s Director General also issued a statement declaring that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.
Monkeypox can be spread from human to human, through close, direct contact with infected bodily fluids (i.e. lesions, blisters) or respiratory droplets (i.e. coughing). While Monkeypox is in the same family as smallpox, Monkeypox is less contagious and includes milder symptoms. People usually develop symptoms five to 21 days after being exposed to the monkeypox virus. Symptoms can include: rash or blister in mouth and around genital areas; swollen lymph nodes; fever and chills; muscle aches; headaches; and exhaustion.
Anyone who experiences symptoms of Monkeypox should seek immediate medical attention. Monkeypox symptoms can be managed, and individuals typically recover within two to four weeks. A vaccine is also available for either pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis associated with confirmed cases. To find out if you are eligible for the vaccine, visit the Health Unit’s Monkeypox Virus web page. If you fit the eligibility criteria for the vaccine, call the HKPR District Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507, to check availability and to book an appointment.
Reassurance from Dr. Bocking
“We want to reassure everyone that we are notifying and following up with all close contacts. The risk to the public is low. Monkeypox cases have been circulating in Ontario for a couple of months, including in our neighbouring health unit regions, so the finding of a local case is not a surprise.”
“While Monkeypox is not easily spread between individuals, we do encourage people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the virus and seek medical attention if symptoms start to present,” Dr. Bocking adds. “Our experience with COVID-19, and the recent rise in monkeypox cases, highlight the risk that infectious diseases can emerge and quickly spread around the world. A strong system of public health response continues to be essential.”
If you need further help or guidance on Monkeypox, call the HKPR District Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1232, or email [email protected].
We are told that the risk is low but it’s good to be informed.