The total number of monkeypox cases in Canada now stands at 159.
As of Wednesday, Quebec reported 132 cases. Twenty-one cases were reported in Ontario, four in Alberta and two in British Columbia, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
There are currently around 1,900 confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide with more than 30 countries reporting outbreaks of the viral disease.
Monkeypox was first found in monkeys. It is caused by the Orthopoxvirus genus that is related to smallpox, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control.
On May 19, Canada reported its first monkeypox case in Montreal.
Symptoms during the first stage of monkeypox may include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, back pain and exhaustion, states PHAC on its website.
During stage two of the illness, a rash develops – usually within one to three days of the fever. The rash usually begins on the face or extremities, but can affect other parts of the body too.
The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that vaccines used during the smallpox eradication program could provide protection against monkeypox, adding that second and third-generation vaccines for smallpox may be useful.
The IMVAMUNE vaccine, a Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine manufactured by Bavarian Nordic, has been approved for the prevention of monkeypox, states the WHO in its Vaccines and Immunization for Monkeypox: Interim Guidance.
“Based on currently assessed risks and benefits and regardless of vaccine supply, mass vaccination is not required, nor recommended for monkeypox at this time,” WHO states. “Human-to-human spread of monkeypox can be controlled by public health measures, including early case-finding, diagnosis and care, isolation and contact-tracing.”
Several studies have proven vaccination against smallpox is about 85 per cent effective in preventing monkeypox, according to Health Canada.
Canadian adults aged 18 years or over, who don’t have contraindications suggesting a vaccine would be harmful, may be offered the IMVAMUNE vaccine.
However, monkeypox is not a new global health problem. Since 1970, there have been monkeypox cases reported in 11 African countries — Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and South Sudan.
In 2003, the United State became the first non-African country to report a monkeypox outbreak.
With WHO announcing the creation of a new vaccine-sharing mechanism for monkeypox outbreaks in more than 30 countries beyond Africa, some critics fear that vaccine will be distributed to rich countries that can afford them.
— With files from Reuters and Associated Press
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