Monkeypox is a rare disease that comes from the same family of viruses that cause smallpox, which the World Health Organization (WHO) declared eradicated worldwide in 1980.
With the vast majority of Canada’s monkeypox cases in Quebec, the province began to offer a smallpox vaccine to specific close contacts of those infected.
As of June 9, 1,622 people have been vaccinated, Quebec’s Health Department said.
Canada stopped routinely immunizing people against smallpox in 1972.
Toronto has 23 cases under investigation as of Thursday, according to its public health unit.
Toronto Public Health announced the city’s first lab-confirmed case of monkeypox on May 26.
There have been more than 1,000 cases of the disease reported to WHO in the current outbreak outside of the countries where it more commonly spreads. So far, twenty-nine countries have reported confirmed cases.
As the disease continues to transmit around the world, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) issued a travel advisory to encourage those leaving the country to take extra caution.
“During your travel, you may be subject to procedures at your destination put in place to limit the spread of monkeypox, such as isolation, should you become infected,” the agency said in a release June 8.
Canadians may also have limited access to timely and appropriate health care, should they become ill, and could experience delays returning to the country, PHAC warned.
Monkeypox spreads through contact with sores and items like bedding or towels that have been exposed to the virus. It can also spread through respiratory droplets, distributed by a cough or sneeze.
Though it can transmit through close contact during sexual activity, it isn’t known to spread through semen or vaginal or rectal fluids.
The virus is not as easily transmitted as the SARS-CoV-2 virus that spurred the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Symptoms consist primarily of skin lesions on the mouth and genitals, and can also include fever, headaches and joint and muscle pain, according to the WHO.
Anyone who develops symptoms is asked to visit a health-care professional, wear a mask and cover the lesions, and inform the clinic ahead of time.
“Anyone, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, could get infected and spread the virus if they come into close contact, including intimate sexual contact with an infected person or a contaminated object,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a briefing last Friday.
— With files from Reuters