Canadian health authorities on Friday confirmed three more cases of monkeypox, bringing the total cases in the country to five, and said several other samples are being examined; while reassuring the public that the viral disease doesn’t pose a serious threat as yet.
Health Canada said Friday evening it had notified Santé Quebec; the province’s health department, that three samples had tested positive for monkeypox.
Nearly two dozen other samples are being tested at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg in the province of Manitoba.
Speaking to reporters during a briefing, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr Theresa Tam said, “So far we do know not many of these individuals are connected to travel to Africa; where the disease is normally seen. This is unusual. It’s unusual for the world to see these many cases reported in different countries outside of Africa.”
However, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said there was “low” cause for concern over the spread of disease in Canada.
In a statement issued on Thursday; when the first two cases were identified, PHAC said that the disease had never before been found in Canada.
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Monkeypox is a rare viral infection similar to human smallpox, though milder, which mostly occurs in west and central Africa.
It does not spread easily between people, but can be transmitted through “ close contact with an infected individual; such as through direct contact with their body fluids, respiratory droplets, or monkeypox sores, or by sharing clothing, bedding or common items that have been contaminated with the infected person’s fluids or sores”.
The case-fatality ratio has varied but has remained between 0 and 10% in all registered infections.
Signs and symptoms of monkeypox may typically include fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that often appears within a few days after symptoms such as fever develop.
Tam also said Canada is looking into whether to deploy its stockpile of the smallpox vaccine; which is shown to be effective against monkeypox.
PHAC said measures utilised for countering the Covid-19 pandemic; like physical distancing, hygiene measures and wearing masks could help people “lower their risk” of contracting monkeypox.