No suspected case of monkeypox has been investigated in British Columbia: officials

No suspected case of monkeypox has been investigated in British Columbia: officials

British Columbia health officials say there are no suspected monkeypox cases under investigation in the province, as concern about cases grows in other parts of Canada.

British Columbia health officials say there are no suspected monkeypox cases under investigation in the province, as concern about cases grows in other parts of Canada.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that comes from the same family of viruses as smallpox. This virus causes smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared worldwide eradicated in 1980. It is also related to the vaccinia virus used in the smallpox vaccine.

Public Health Canada, which is investigating about two dozen possible cases of monkeypox as well as five confirmed cases in Quebec, says it is spread through prolonged close contact. This includes through direct contact with an infected person’s respiratory droplets, body fluids, or sores, which is not very contagious in a typical social setting.

British Columbia’s Center for Disease Control said Friday it is not investigating any suspected cases or potential contacts of monkeypox in the province after ruling out two possible people.

Senior public health officials said Friday that the risk posed by monkeypox is low, but that everyone in Canada is at risk of contracting it because routine smallpox vaccination ended decades ago.

Dr Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health official, said the federal public health agency does not know the extent of the disease in the country.

Monkeypox is usually milder than smallpox and can cause fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and lesions throughout the body.

There is global evidence that smallpox vaccines can provide protection against monkeypox.

But Canada stopped routinely immunizing people against smallpox in 1972.

That means everyone is susceptible to monkeypox, Tam’s deputy, Dr. Howard Ngo, said.

“I would say, in general, the entire population is susceptible to monkeypox,” Ngo said Friday.

Canada keeps a small stockpile of smallpox vaccine in the event of a biological accident, such as a laboratory exposure.

A small number of cases in the UK prompted that country to start offering the vaccine to health workers and contacts of confirmed cases.

Tam said Canada is considering a similar strategy.

“Quebec has had some interest in terms of communication, so that is under discussion now, but of course we need to find out some epidemiology ASAP,” Tam said.

She did not specify how many doses of smallpox vaccine are available in Canada, citing security reasons.

Public Services and Procurement Canada launched a tender last month to purchase 500,000 doses of the Imvamune smallpox vaccine on behalf of Public Health Canada from 2023 to 2028.

“Although smallpox is currently considered eradicated, PHAC is procuring a stockpile of the vaccine to immunize Canadians against smallpox should there ever arise a risk where smallpox is intentionally or unintentionally released,” the tender stated.

The product is also approved by Health Canada for the prevention of monkeypox.

The company announced Thursday that it had struck a deal with an unnamed European country to provide it with a vaccine in response to monkeypox cases.

There is still a sense of mystery surrounding the sudden emergence of the virus in Canada, the United States, Australia and several parts of Europe.

“A lot of these individuals are not associated with travel to Africa where the disease is seen naturally, so this is unusual. It is unusual for the world to see such a large number of cases reported in different countries outside Africa,” Tam said.

She said Canadian health systems are throwing a net in their search for more cases, because there isn’t enough information about why the virus has suddenly emerged around the world.

“There may have been some subtle chains of transmission that could have happened for a fair number of weeks, given the kind of global situation we’re seeing now,” she said.

Ngo said global public health authorities should be open to the idea that monkeypox is evolving, and possibly alter transmission as well.

Currently, samples from suspected cases are being sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, but PHAC is working with counties to prepare more local diagnoses.



2022-05-20 22:01:00

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