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Monkeypox Virus

Currently, person to person transmission is occurring in Canada. In line with international trends, the majority of cases in Canada to date are men who reported intimate sexual contact with other men. However, it's important to stress that the risk of exposure to the monkeypox virus is not exclusive to any group or setting. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) the risk of infection is low for the general population.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with Monkeypox virus. Monkeypox can cause a rash, which may look like pimples or blisters, and sometimes can cause a flu-like illness.

What are the symptoms of Monkeypox infection?

Symptoms of Monkeypox typically include fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, low energy, muscle aches and skin rash or lesions. The rash usually begins within one to three days after other symptoms. Lesions can be flat or slightly raised, filled with clear or yellowish fluid, and can then crust, dry up and fall off. Monkeypox symptoms can start within five to 21 days after exposure to Monkeypox, but usually appear in six to 13 days. Symptoms can last between two to four weeks and generally, most people recover on their own after a few weeks.

Someone infected with the Monkeypox virus is contagious from the onset of their first symptom until all of their scabs have fallen off and new intact skin has formed below the scab.

How does the Monkeypox virus spread?

This infection can spread from a person with the virus to others through close contact with respiratory droplets from breathing, talking, coughing or sneezing, skin-to-skin contact with lesions, blisters, rashes or bodily fluids, such as saliva, and contact with objects, fabrics (such as bedding and towels), and surfaces used by someone who is infected with the virus.

Monkeypox vaccine and eligibility

Imvamune® vaccine eligibility for protection before an exposure to the monkeypox virus

Based on the Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines, Imvamune should be considered for the following:

  1. Two-spirited, non-binary, trans- or cis-gender individuals who self-identify or have sexual partners who self-identify as belonging to the gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) community AND at least one of the following:
  • Have received a diagnosis of bacterial STI (i.e., chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis) in the past 2 months;
  • Have had 2 or more sexual partners or may be planning to;
  • Have attended venues for sexual contact (i.e., bath houses, sex clubs) or may be planning to, or who work/volunteer in these settings; or
  • Have had anonymous sex (e.g., using hookup apps) or may be planning to; and/or
  • Are a sexual contact of an individual who engages in sex work

b) Any individual who engages in sex work or may be planning to.

c)  Individuals who are immunocompromised and/or pregnant. These individuals may be at higher risk for severe illness from a monkeypox infection and they should contact their local public health unit for consideration of PrEP if they are at risk for contracting monkeypox.

Where can I find more information?