Since its unusual appearance in the West this spring, monkey pox has been a topic of discussion among Canadians, while officials are working to limit the spread.
On Wednesday, Canada reported a 59 percent increase in cases of monkey pox over the past week – reflecting a trend of increasing cases reported across the globe.
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Although cases are on the rise, the risk to the general population remains low – but that does not mean Canadians should not be on guard, health experts say.
“If you are not part of the vulnerable community at the moment, it does not mean that you are impervious to the virus. It just means that at the moment it is not something that should occupy you or make you anxious,” said Dr. Don Vinh, a specialist in infectious diseases at the McGill University Health Center.
“I would suggest that you let the medical, scientific and public health communities bear this burden of anxiety. We will implement the necessary steps to try to intervene at either the individual or community level, but I do not think people need to go panic or be anxious other than just being informed or educated. ”
Monkey poop cases count climbing in Canada
Canada now has 477 confirmed cases of monkey pox in the country since its emergence as part of the unusual global outbreak that started in May.
Between July 4 and 13, a total of 177 new cases have been confirmed in the country, representing a 59 percent increase in the number of cases during that time frame.
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Quebec continues to have the largest share of the viral disease with 284 cases per year. July 13, up from 211 cases last week.
But Ontario saw the largest increase in cases in all of the provinces, going to 156 cases from 77 cases per year. July 4th.
British Columbia also saw an increase in cases for the first time in weeks, with 29 confirmed cases compared to four previously. Alberta still has only eight confirmed cases, unchanged from the last update.
While confirmed cases contribute to the increased number, other causes such as increased surveillance also play a role, said Dr. Sameer Elsayed, a specialist in infectious diseases at Western University.
“There is a greater awareness of the disease,” he said.
“More people think of monkey pox when they see someone with a rash that may be compatible with monkey pox.”
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Monkey pox, which causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, is transmitted to humans from animals caused by an orthopedic virus, which is related to smallpox, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Individuals can be infected through direct contact with an infected person or by commonly contaminated items, including bedding or towels.
About 60 countries where monkey pox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the disease, with confirmed cases now at 10,400. The disease occurs mainly in West and Central Africa and spreads only occasionally elsewhere.
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The World Health Organization announced on Thursday that its monkey pox emergency committee will meet again on July 21 to look at trends in the outbreak and how effective countermeasures have been taken against the virus.
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The committee will also make recommendations on what countries and societies should do to tackle the outbreak, WHO Director – General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesusi said during a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.
“I do not think it is anything like COVID-19 in terms of pressing the panic button and saying we have a worldwide threat to public health,” Elsayed said.
“We have a public health concern.”
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Last month, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended Canadians who are at high risk of getting monkey pox – not just those who have been infected – get a vaccine.
Anyone at high risk of being exposed to a probable or confirmed case of monkey pox, or who has visited an environment where the virus is transmitted, should receive one dose of the Imvamune vaccine, the NACI said.
The NACI also said that vaccines can be offered to those who are immunocompromised, pregnant or breastfeeding, or children and adolescents if they have a higher risk of exposure.
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Imvamune, commonly used to treat smallpox, has been approved by Health Canada to treat monkey smallpox.
Ideally, those who have been exposed to this virus should receive their vaccine within four days of exposure, said Canada’s Chief of Health, Dr. Theresa Tam, June 10th.
Quebec has been vaccinating close contacts of confirmed or suspected cases of monkey pox since late May, and has inoculated thousands since then.
In Toronto, the city has hosted local clinics offering the Imvamune vaccine to vulnerable people. Pr. On July 4, close to 6,000 vulnerable people had received a shot since June 30.
Meanwhile, Vancouver Coastal Health is opening more monkey pox vaccine clinics, increasing access for those 18 and older who are transgender or belonging to the LGBTQ2 community and who meet additional high-risk criteria.
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To date, officials have said mass vaccination for the general population is not necessary. The unusual spread of monkey pox has primarily circulated in men who have sex with men, but the characteristics of the virus do not limit it to one group, experts say. Ontario registered its first case of monkey pox in a female Thursday.
Those at risk may include those who have close contact with an infected person, be it healthcare professionals or family members, Elsayed said.
But with monkey pox spreading globally, other countries are also vaccinating risk groups, putting demand on supply and straining resources, Vinh said.
“We must also remember that because there are limited supplies, we must first focus on the most vulnerable groups in the same way that we did when we had a limited supply of the COVID vaccine and we targeted the elderly,” he said. .
“What we need to do is use the vaccine wisely.”
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“With COVID, we have used a kind of throw-away kitchen-washing approach, where we hit COVID so hard that we have actually caused damage to our health system by ignoring other health components. We have staff shortages. We have cancer diagnoses that are delayed,” he said. he.
“Just target the highest risk groups, which are men who have sex with men, health professionals … maybe family members, that would be the people I would vaccinate. I would not vaccinate the general population at all, as we do with COVID . “
Aside from vaccination, public health practices such as distancing, hand washing and masking, which Canadians learned to handle COVID-19, can also be applied to monkey cups, Elsayed added.
“The most important thing is to educate people to say that you should avoid contact with people who are potentially high risk, or people who may have symptoms that are compatible with monkey pox,” he said.
“A lot of it has to do with education – you can advise people on what to do, but you can’t control what people do.”
– with files from Teresa Wright.
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