Four cases of monkeypox identified in Alberta – Red Deer Advocate

Alberta health officials have identified four cases of monkeypox while Quebec has detected nearly 100 cases.

Quebec has the most cases in Canada so far, although the virus has also been found in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that comes from the same family of viruses that cause smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared eradicated worldwide in 1980.

Monkeypox does not usually spread easily between people and is spread by prolonged close contact via respiratory droplets, direct contact with broken skin or bodily fluids, or through contaminated clothing or bedding.

Quebec began offering a smallpox vaccine to some close contacts of infected people in late May, and the health ministry says it has since vaccinated 1,622 people so far.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr Deena Hinshaw, said the four adults with monkeypox in that province are self-isolating.

“I would like to express my gratitude for their assistance in contact tracing and investigation,” Hinshaw said.

“At this time, the overall risk of contracting monkeypox remains low in Alberta.”

Hinshaw said globally, most cases have been seen in men who reported having had sex with multiple male partners.

“It means there may be a high risk in this community at this time.

“We reached out to organizations across the province that serve this community and, after receiving feedback, provided them with information to better support them in outreach to their members.

Hinshaw stressed that raising awareness does not mean the virus can only affect one community and that she does not want to see anyone shamed or stigmatized.

Anyone with symptoms such as fever, swollen glands, sores or rash should self-isolate and call HealthLink at 811.

“These are common symptoms and most people with these symptoms will have another cause. However, being aware of these symptoms is especially important for anyone who has recently had a new sexual partner, or anyone who thinks they have been in close and prolonged contact with someone who has monkeypox.

On the COVID front, Hinshaw said indicators show the number of cases is falling and the number of people hospitalized has fallen by 20% in the past two weeks.

“We know we have the advantage of the summer season on our side to further reduce transmission. However, that being said, it is important to remember that learning to live with COVID does not mean forgetting it.

Hinshaw reminded Albertans who have not been fully vaccinated to get vaccinated. Fewer than half of Albertans eligible for a third dose received it, she said. Albertans aged 12 and older who received their last dose at least five months ago are eligible for a booster.

Hinshaw was asked if a fourth dose would soon be available for more of the population. Health officials have spoken with national and provincial advisory committees and they have not recommended expanding the eligible population for a fourth dose.

The latest data indicates that with people under the age of 70, “we do not see an increased risk of serious outcomes if they received that third dose or that first booster.”

Findings may change and health officials will be watching closely, she added.

— With files from The Canadian Press



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