Monkeypox: here are the treatments and what to do in case of infection – National

Canadian health authorities are urging caution after the discovery of cases of monkeypox in the country and in other parts of the world.

As of Friday, five cases have been confirmed and about 20 others are under investigation, mainly in Quebec, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

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Although the risk of infection in the general population is low, it is not yet clear how widespread the disease has become in Canada, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday.

“We could expect to hear more confirmations in the hours and days to come,” she told reporters during a virtual press conference.

Monkeypox is a rare zoonotic infectious disease that can be transmitted through close contact with an infected person through bodily fluids, skin sores or lesions, and/or respiratory droplets.

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Sharing clothes, bedding or common items that have been contaminated by the infected person’s fluids or wounds can also spread the virus, according to PHAC.

Prevention and vaccination

To reduce the risk of infection, PHAC advises physical distancing, frequent hand washing and mask wearing – all measures that have been used to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is no specific vaccine against monkeypox, which belongs to the same virus family as smallpox, which causes smallpox.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smallpox vaccination has been shown to be 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.

Canada, which maintains a small stock of smallpox vaccines, is considering using these shots for monkeypox.

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Click to play the video: “Canada's top doctor discusses monkeypox vaccination strategies”

Canada’s top doctor discusses monkeypox vaccine strategies

Canada’s top doctor discusses monkeypox vaccine strategies

On Friday, Dr. Tam did not reveal how many doses of the smallpox vaccine Canada has, citing security concerns.

Canada stopped routinely vaccinating people against smallpox in 1972.

At present, experts are not recommending vaccinating the general population, but instead opting for a “ring vaccination campaign” around close contacts of confirmed cases and prioritizing high-risk groups.

What to do in case of infection?

There are two phases when it comes to developing monkeypox symptoms, which include fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes, and lesions all over the body.

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In the first, so-called “invasive” phase, a person could develop fever, sore throat and cough, according to Dr. Donald Vinh, infectious disease specialist and medical microbiologist at the McGill University Health Center (MUHC).

Within a week, a rash or sores on the skin, full of fluid, begin to develop.

Click to play the video: 'What is monkeypox and how is it transmitted?'

What is monkeypox and how is it transmitted?

What is monkeypox and how is it transmitted?

The incubation period, which is the time between exposure and the onset of symptoms, averages between five and 21 days, said Dr. Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist at the UCLA School of Public Health.

Isolation and quarantine work “very well” to limit the spread of monkeypox, she told Global News.

“It would be a good idea to… contact your doctor and isolate yourself from others until you are sure this is not what you have.”

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Infected people should self-isolate for about three weeks, McGill’s Vinh said, along with people who have had potential contact with a confirmed or suspected case.

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If you are a suspected case or have symptoms, you should contact regional public health authorities, he added.

Those who are symptomatic will be guided to get a medical evaluation to determine if they have the disease.

Any objects or surfaces that may have come into contact with an infected person’s respiratory droplets or skin lesion fluid should be properly disinfected, Vinh advised.

What treatments are available?

There are no specific drugs available to treat monkeypox, but smallpox antivirals can be used as a treatment.

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“There are drugs or medications that have been developed that seemed to have an effect on a cousin of monkeypox, which is smallpox or other types of pox virus, but again, we don’t actually have the even proof that they would work for monkeypox at this time,” Vinh said.

The WHO says patients with monkeypox should be given fluids and food “to maintain adequate nutritional status.”

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Suspected cases of monkeypox in Canada raise public health concerns

Suspected cases of monkeypox in Canada raise public health concerns

The antiviral agent tecovirmat developed for smallpox is considered a therapeutic agent for monkeypox in Europe and the United States.

The US CDC has also listed cidofovir, brincidofovir, and vaccine immunoglobulin (VIG) as treatment options.

Skin lesions can lead to pneumonia, dehydration, and bacteria, causing superinfection.

In these cases, supportive care, such as antibiotics, intravenous fluids and painkillers, can be given to the patient, Vinh said.

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— With files from Jamie Mauracher of Global News and The Canadian Press

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