Update on monkeypox in Canada
May 26, 2022 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is issuing this statement to provide an update to the evolving epidemiological investigation into monkeypox cases in Canada.
Today, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is confirming additional cases of monkeypox in Canada. In addition to the previously reported sixteen confirmed cases in Quebec, PHAC's National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) has confirmed another 10 cases. There are now 26 confirmed cases in Canada. The breakdown by province is: Quebec (25) and Ontario (1). It is likely that additional cases will be reported in the coming days as the NML is continuing to receive samples for confirmatory testing from multiple jurisdictions.
Human cases of monkeypox have been recently reported in over 20 countries worldwide. Before now, Canada has not seen person-to-person spread of monkeypox. We are continuing to collaborate with international partners to better understand the arrival of this virus in countries outside of Africa. PHAC, together with health authorities at all levels are actively addressing the situation in Canada to provide the people in Canada with the information they need to make informed decisions about their health.
The NML is working to facilitate and support laboratory testing capacity in jurisdictions across the country. The Agency is engaging with experts to finalize and release public health guidance on case identification, contact tracing and isolation, as well as infection and prevention control for the healthcare system. The NML is also completing whole genome sequencing, an enhanced fingerprint analysis, on Canadian samples of monkeypox. This sequencing will help our experts understand the chains of transmission occurring in Canada.
Additionally, there is ongoing work to plan the way forward with provinces, territories and partners, such as providing access to approved vaccines in Canada that, if required, can be used in managing monkeypox in their jurisdiction. As a preparedness step, limited shipments of Imvamune vaccine from Canada's National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS) are being offered to jurisdictions who require a targeted response. Currently, there is no need for the vaccine to be used for mass immunization. This recommendation is in alignment with international expert assessments, including the World Health Organization (WHO). The situation in Canada is under close and constant monitoring and may be adapted as and when the need arises.
While the risk of infection is currently low for the general population, monkeypox virus can affect anyone who is in close contact with an infected person or their contaminated objects. Contrary to some recent media reports, this virus does not discriminate and is not limited to spread from intimate sexual activities. This kind of misinformation and stigmatization can lead to misunderstanding of risks and negative health outcomes. Canada's Chief Medical Officers of Health are meeting regularly and working collaboratively to analyze available information about these emerging human infections that before now, have never before been reported in Canada.
Canadians should be aware of the symptoms of monkeypox. Anyone who may have come into contact with a case or who is feeling unwell or has symptoms that could be consistent with monkeypox infection, should limit their contact with others and report their symptoms to their health care provider. Common signs and symptoms of monkeypox infection include fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes, and development of a new rash. Following infection, the incubation period (number of days between exposure/infection and onset of symptoms) is normally 6-13 days but can range to as much as 21 days. Health care providers are urged to be extra vigilant and closely watch for patients with any symptoms of monkeypox, even atypical presentation, regardless of whether they have reported travel.
The Government of Canada will continue to work with the provinces and territories to respond to the evolving situation, and will continue to provide updates to the public as new information becomes available.
Public Health Agency of Canada
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