EASTERN ONTARIO HEALTH UNIT PROVIDES INFORMATION ON MONKEYPOX VIRUS
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has released the following information regarding the monkeypox virus. As of August 8th, there have been 478 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Ontario.
WHAT IS MONKEYPOX?
Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus, an Orthopoxvirus from the same family as smallpox. Monkeypox is less transmissible than smallpox, and cases are often less severe. The virus has been rare in Canada; however, cases have occurred in 2022 and numbers are increasing.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms of monkeypox include some, or all, of the following:
- Muscle pain
- Low energy and fatigue
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Rash, sores, or lesions on the body, including hands, face, feet, and genitals
The rash/sores may appear in a few days after other symptoms and appearance may change over time, such as from flat red marks to raised pimple-like bumps, to scabs as they heal. Monkeypox often clears on its own; however, some cases can be more severe and may require treatment.
HOW IS MONKEYPOX SPREAD?
Monkeypox is spread from someone with the virus passing it to someone else usually through close contact. Common ways the virus is spread include:
- Physical contact such as intimate sexual contact (including kissing) and direct skin-to-skin contact with sores from the virus.
- Respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing, or from long conversations had in close proximity (such as when caring for someone with monkeypox).
- Contact with material with the monkeypox virus on it, such as: used utensils/dishes which have not been properly cleaned and unwashed bedding/towels/clothing.
PLEASE NOTE: Monkeypox is not spread through brief contact such as short conversations or walking past someone with monkeypox
HOW DO I PREVENT MONKEYPOX?
Proper hand washing and hand hygiene are important in preventing illnesses of all kinds, including monkeypox. Other ways you can help prevent getting monkeypox include:
- Not visiting people who have, or are suspected to have, monkeypox.
- Self-monitoring for symptoms if you think you have had contact with someone who has or suspects they have monkeypox.
- Wearing protective equipment such as a mask and gloves, if you are caring for someone with monkeypox.
Not sharing personal items such as water bottles, toothbrushes, etc.
- Avoiding close contact, including sex, kissing, or cuddling, with people with symptoms like sores or rashes.
IS THERE A MONKEYPOX VACCINE?
The Imvamune vaccine has been approved by Health Canada and may be offered as part of prevention against the virus. The vaccine can be given after exposure to an infected person, or before for individuals who may be at a higher risk for exposure. The Imvamune vaccine can only be given before symptoms appear and can’t be given to those who have had monkeypox before.
If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for monkeypox, you may be eligible for vaccination. The imvamune vaccine is given as a single dose and should be given between 4 and 14 days from when you were exposed. Please contact the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) to find out if you are eligible for vaccination and to book your appointment.
If you have been identified as a contact of a positive case of monkeypox, you may also be contacted by the EOHU.
The Ontario Ministry of Health has provided guidelines for the use of the Imvamune vaccine for pre-exposure vaccination in certain at-risk groups, including trans- or cis-gender individuals who self-identify as belonging to the gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) community AND at least one of the following:
- Have received a diagnosis of bacterial STI (i.e., chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis) in the past 2 months.
- Have had 2 or more sexual partners within the past 21 days or may be planning to.
- Have attended venues for sexual contact within the past 21 days (i.e., bath houses, sex clubs) or may be planning to, or who work/volunteer in these settings.
- Have had anonymous sex in the past 21 days (e.g., using hookup apps) or may be planning to.
- Engage in sex work or may be planning to, and their sexual contacts.
The EOHU is offering pre-exposure vaccinations by appointment only. Please call the EOHU at 613-933-1375 or 1-800-267-7120 to book. Akwesasronon residing in Quebec will be eligible to access EOHU pre-exposure monkeypox vaccine clinics. See eligibility list in the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis section.
WHAT DO I DO IF I THINK I HAVE MONKEYPOX?
If you think you may have monkeypox, contact the EOHU or your healthcare provider, and self-isolate or stay home, except to seek medical treatment or testing.
Isolate from other people in your house to prevent the spread. Wear a mask and cover any sores you may have if you cannot avoid contact with another person. Some people, such as immunocompromised individuals, people who are pregnant, and children under 12 years old are at a higher risk of complications from monkeypox, so it is important to avoid contact with them.
To be assessed and tested for monkeypox, please visit your local emergency room, as the EOHU does not provide testing or diagnosis for monkeypox. If you test positive in the emergency room, contact your healthcare provider and/or the EOHU with your positive test results.
For more information on the monkeypox virus, please visit www.eohu.ca, or call 613-933-1375 or 1-800-267-7120.