Case of monkeypox confirmed in Northumberland County resident

Infected person is recovering in isolation and health unit has contacted close contacts

A colourized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox virus particles (green) cultivated and purified from cell culture. (Photo: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
A colourized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox virus particles (green) cultivated and purified from cell culture. (Photo: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit is reporting its first lab-confirmed case of the monkeypox virus in its region.

Confirmed on Wednesday (July 27), the case involves a Northumberland County resident who is currently recovering and in isolation. The health unit has completed follow-up with the infected person and has contacted anyone else who may have had close contact with this case, including those who may require vaccination against the virus.

Peterborough Public Health announced the first confirmed case of monkeypox in the Peterborough region on June 22. Since then, another case in that region has been confirmed.

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“The risk to the public is low,” says Dr. Natalie Bocking, medical officer of health with the HKPR District Health Unit, in a media release. “Monkeypox cases have been circulating in Ontario for a couple of months, including in our neighbouring health unit regions, so the finding of a local case is not a surprise.”

As of July 23, more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported to the World Health Organization from 75 countries. A month before, there were 3,040 cases in 47 countries. As of July 26, there are 326 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Ontario, with more than three-quarters of these cases reported in Toronto.

Monkeypox is a viral disease previously mainly found in countries in central and west Africa. It can be spread from human to human through close and direct contact with infected bodily fluids or respiratory droplets. While monkeypox is in the same family as smallpox, it is less contagious and includes milder symptoms.

People usually develop symptoms five to 21 days after being exposed to the monkeypox virus. Symptoms can include a rash or blister in mouth and around genital areas, swollen lymph nodes, fever and chills, muscle aches, headaches, and exhaustion.

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“While monkeypox is not easily spread between individuals, we do encourage people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the virus and seek medical attention if symptoms start to present,” Dr. Bocking says. “Our experience with COVID-19, and the recent rise in monkeypox cases, highlight the risk that infectious diseases can emerge and quickly spread around the world. A strong system of public health response continues to be essential.”

Anyone who experiences symptoms of monkeypox should seek immediate medical attention. Monkeypox symptoms can be managed, and those infected typically recover within two to four weeks. A vaccine is also available for either pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis associated with confirmed cases.

To find out if you are eligible for the vaccine, visit the health unit’s website at www.hkpr.on.ca. If you fit the eligibility criteria for the vaccine, call the HKPR District Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507 to check availability and to book an appointment.