June 17, 2022
Dear Patients of Spectrum,
We have understandably been receiving a number of questions regarding the evolving monkeypox outbreak in Canada. As of today, there are still only two confirmed cases of monkeypox in British Columbia so the risk of acquiring the illness here is very low.
The following is taken directly from the BCCDC website (http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/monkeypox) and we encourage you to use this resource for news regarding the outbreak.
How it spreads
Monkeypox can spread from animals to humans, from person to person and through contaminated objects.
- Monkeypox is spread through contact with sores and items like bedding or towels that have monkeypox virus. It can also spread through respiratory droplets such as coughs and sneezes during close, face-to-face contact with a person who has monkeypox.
- Monkeypox is not known to be transmitted sexually. This means the virus does not spread through semen, vaginal or rectal fluids and is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can spread through close contact during sexual activity.
Symptoms can last 2 to 4 weeks and occur in two stages. In the first stage, symptoms can include:
- Intense headache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Back pain
- Muscle pain
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- Other less common symptoms can include sore throat, cough, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea
The second stage usually starts 1 to 5 days after the first stage. Second stage symptoms can include:
- A rash that often starts on the face or legs and arms, and can affect other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, mouth and genitals.
- Monkeypox sores usually last between 2 to 3 weeks. The sores change in appearance over time from raised spots to small blisters filled with fluid. They eventually form a scab and fall off.
Some people experience symptoms differently. For example, they may not experience first-stage symptoms but will develop sores. They may develop sores on only one or a few parts of the body.
If you have been exposed
- Public health is following up with all known contacts of the cases.
- Monitor for symptoms if you have had contact with a person with known or suspected monkeypox.
- It can take around 1 to 3 weeks after exposure for a person to develop symptoms.
If you become ill
- Contact the clinic to get tested. When booking your appointment, tell the staff if you have had contact with a person with known or suspected monkeypox.
- Stay home and self-isolate until your appointment.
- Stay away from people you live with if you can and do not share towels, clothing or linens.
- If possible, ask other members of your household, family or friends to look after any pets so you do not spread monkeypox to animals.
- If monkeypox is confirmed, public health will contact you to give more instructions.
- Monkeypox is usually a mild illness and most people recover on their own after a few weeks.
- There are no well-established treatments for monkeypox. Antiviral medication may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Prevention and vaccination
- Health Canada maintains a limited stockpile of a vaccine that protects against monkeypox (Imvamune™).
- It has been distributed to provincial and territorial public health authorities to help manage the outbreak.
- In B.C., medical health officers may recommend the vaccine for some people who are close contacts of a person with monkeypox.
- The vaccine is not currently available to the general public as there is a limited supply of the vaccine and relatively few cases.
Please note that If we are made aware of any change in vaccination guidelines, we will notify you by way of a subsequent email.