Quebec public health officials are reporting 132 confirmed cases of monkeypox across the province as of Tuesday, with more than 3,000 vaccine doses administered to date.
Dr. Luc Boileau, interim director of Quebec’s public health department, told reporters in Montreal the situation is “under control for now.”
“It’s not rising quickly,” he said, referring to the number of infections, which is up from 98 in the last report. “It’s rising slowly but there’s still a progression.”
The majority of the province’s monkeypox cases have been detected in Montreal, which accounts for 126 infections to date.
“Montreal is the epicentre,” said Dr. Mylène Drouin, the city’s public health director.
Most of the cases are not severe, she added. Three people have been hospitalized since the beginning of the outbreak but all of them have been discharged.
Monkeypox is a rare disease. It stems from the same family of viruses that causes smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared eradicated around the globe in 1980.
The virus spreads through prolonged intimate contact, but it is not very contagious in a typical social setting. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes and lesions.
Quebec recorded the first cases of the monkeypox in the country last month, with the first suspected infections reported on May 12 in Montreal.
The province is administering smallpox vaccine Imvamune, though it has been reserved for close contacts at high risk of developing the disease. More than 3,000 doses have been given since late May, Boileau said Tuesday.
The majority of cases have been detected among men who have sexual relations with other men, so Drouin explained the vaccine will now be offered within that community as a preventive measure.
Sex workers and men who are visiting Montreal and plan to have sex with other men during their visit are among those who are eligible for vaccination, she said.
“It is an additional measure we are putting in place to control the outbreak,” Drouin said.
— with files from The Canadian Press