1st case of monkeypox confirmed in Nova Scotia resident

Click to play video: 'Monkeypox highlights lack of LGBTQ2+ health care in N.B., N.S.'
Monkeypox highlights lack of LGBTQ2+ health care in N.B., N.S.
As monkeypox cases continue to impact Canadians, it shines a familiar light on the lack of access for health care in the LGBTQ2+ community. The vaccine has limited availability, meaning proactive vaccination is not available to those most at risk. Nathalie Sturgeon explains how that’s impacting people in the Maritimes. – Aug 19, 2022

Nova Scotia has its first confirmed case of monkeypox in a resident, the province announced Tuesday.

In a release, the Department of Health and Wellness said the individual got the illness while travelling outside of the province and symptoms appeared after their return to Nova Scotia.

Public health has been following the case closely and has identified only one low-risk contact, the province said.

Read more: Access to monkeypox vaccine in N.S., N.B. a barrier for LGBTQ2+ community: advocates

“Monkeypox cases have been reported in other Canadian jurisdictions, but the risk of exposure remains low,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, in the release.

“Nova Scotia is working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada to monitor the situation here and across the country.”

Story continues below advertisement

Monkeypox is spread through very close, intimate person-to-person contact, the release said. So far, it has been reported mostly among men who identify as gay or bisexual or men who have sex with men.

The province currently has a “very small allotment” of 160 doses of vaccine, which it is reserving for those at the highest risk of infection, such as those who are deemed close contacts of someone with monkeypox.

Read more: Source of monkeypox case in N.B. still unknown, vaccine supply limited

“The Province is working with the federal government to quickly increase Nova Scotia’s supply of the monkeypox vaccine, Imvamune,” the release said.

“The Province has also been working closely with groups including Sexual Health Nova Scotia, prideHealth and the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia as it moves to establish a pre-exposure vaccination program targeted to high-risk groups.”

As of Aug. 19, there were more than 1,100 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Canada, with the majority of cases in Ontario and Quebec.

Province urged to ‘get ahead’ of community transmission

An open letter last week signed by representatives from Sexual Health Nova Scotia, the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia, the Community-Based Research Centre, the Wabanaki Two-Spirit Alliance and Dalhousie University called for “immediate action” to roll out the vaccine to groups that are most at risk of monkeypox.

Story continues below advertisement

“The failure to proactively roll out vaccination in Nova Scotia limits access to this key prevention intervention to those who do not have resources to seek vaccination elsewhere,” the letter said. “This further reinforces inequalities and inequities in access to health care, including on the lines of race and class.”

Read more: N.S. family doctor of 43 years says the province’s doctor shortage is not surprising

The letter, dated Aug. 18, said the province should scale up access to vaccines, including before exposure, as well as provide financial support to those who must isolate or miss work due to the illness.

It also called for the development of “an accessible online self-evaluation checklist for monkeypox, with clear guidance on where and how to seek more information, medical care and financial support.”

“The window of opportunity to get ahead of this new public health challenge is now, before community transmission becomes established in the province,” the letter continued.

“Nova Scotia should be supporting Two-Spirit, gay, bisexual, trans and queer men who have sex with men and non-binary people, who are known to be proactive at actively safeguarding their health, as well as other communities at risk, with tools to protect their health and their communities.”

Monkeypox symptoms

Monkeypox spreads through close contact with an infected person, including sexual activity, direct contact with monkeypox sores, inhaling respiratory droplets from an infected person and contact with contaminated items like clothing or bedding.

Story continues below advertisement

Symptoms usually develop five to 21 days after exposure to the virus.

Read more: Should Canadians be worried about polio? New viruses? Vaccination is key, says Tam

Initially, symptoms begin with fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headache, muscle, joint and back pain, and exhaustion.

Symptoms can progress one to two days later and can include a rash or sores that usually start on the face, legs or arms and can affect other parts of the body, including hands, feet, mouth and genitals.

While this is the first Nova Scotian to have monkeypox, late last month the province said it had identified two cases from people who were not from Nova Scotia. At the time, public health said the cases were closely tracked and there was no risk of transmission.

Sponsored content