Ontario isn’t seeing a rapid rise in monkeypox cases and its vaccination strategy appears to be working, according to the province’s chief medical officer of health.
The Dr Kieran Moore said monkeypox would likely be present for “many, many months” due to its long incubation period of up to 21 days, but Ontario is not experiencing exponential growth of the virus.
“Right now the number (of cases) is not growing rapidly, but it is growing,” said Dr.r Moore in a recent interview. We think it’s stabilizing in Ontario, in the sense that it’s not growing fast. »
The Dr Moore said 133 cases had been identified in Ontario as of July 6, with the vast majority in Toronto and most of the others linked to the city. Public Health Ontario had reported 33 cases two weeks earlier.
All reported cases as of July 6 were in men between the ages of 20 and 65.
Monkeypox usually does not spread easily between people and is transmitted by prolonged close contact via respiratory droplets, direct contact with broken skin or bodily fluids, or through contaminated clothing or bedding. Symptoms may include skin rashes, mouth and genital sores, swollen lymph nodes, headache, fever, chills, myalgia, and fatigue.
Public health says most cases are in men who report intimate contact with other men, but anyone can get monkeypox.
The disease comes from the same family of viruses that cause smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared eradicated worldwide in 1980. Smallpox vaccines have been shown to be effective in combating the virus.
The Dr Moore said the province is working “diligently” to vaccinate those who have contracted the virus as well as their close contacts or anyone at risk of contact.
“Over 8,000 people have received the smallpox vaccine, which we believe provides good protection against monkeypox,” he said.
“We were also able to provide treatment, so five Ontarians were treated with a drug called TPoxx, (which is for those) who had serious complications from monkeypox. »
The province is not looking to expand its vaccination strategy at this time, said Dr.r Moore, adding that “it seems to work.”
“Normally this vaccine has two doses 28 days apart,” said Dr.r Moore. We are considering whether to call back those 8,000 people and provide them with a second dose. »
The DD Allison McGreer, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, said the increase in cases in the province “is not alarming”, but the situation is still “relatively fragile”.
“We don’t know what it will take to bring the outbreak under control,” said Dr.D McGreer. We are not fully convinced that the virus has not changed enough to allow more sustained transmission to populations. »
The DD McGreer said there was no immediate risk for most people, however.
“It’s really still an intervention for populations where we have a defined risk, and they’re monitoring very carefully to identify if there’s been any spread outside of those high-risk populations,” said Dr.D McGreer.
The province’s current vaccination strategy is “the best we can do at this time with the limited supplies we have,” she said.
“The dividing line that all jurisdictions try to respect is to ensure that people at significant risk of monkeypox have access to the vaccine,” she added.
“And that the rest of us who are not, at this time, at significant risk of monkeypox, exhaust the limited reserves we have and are potentially at a minute risk that we do not know. just not yet. »