Alberta chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says four cases of monkey pox have been identified in the province. (File photo from The Canadian Press)

Alberta chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says four cases of monkey pox have been identified in the province. (File photo from The Canadian Press)

Four monkeypox cases identified in Alberta

Risk of transmission remains low, says Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health

Alberta health officials have identified four cases of monkeypox while Quebec has detected nearly 100 cases.

Quebec has most of Canada’s cases so far, although the virus has also been found in Alberta, B.C. and Ontario.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that comes from the same family of viruses that cause smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared eradicated around the globe in 1980.

Monkeypox generally does not spread easily between people and is transmitted through prolonged close contact via respiratory droplets, direct contact with skin lesions or bodily fluids, or through contaminated clothes or bedding.

Quebec began offering a smallpox vaccine to certain close contacts of infected people in late May, and the Health Department says as of today it has since vaccinated 1,622 people.

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that the four adults with monkeypox in this province were self-isolating.

“I want to express my appreciation for their assistance with contact tracing and investigation,” said Hinshaw.

“At this time, the overall risk of contracting monkeypox remains low in Alberta.”

Hinshaw said globally most cases have been seen in men who reported sex with multiple male partners.

“This means that there may be an elevated risk in that community right now.

“We’ve reached out to organizations across the province serving this community, and after receiving feedback, have provided them information to best support them in outreach to their members.”

Hinshaw emphasized that the outreach does not mean the virus can only impact one community and she does not want to see anyone shamed or stigmatized.

Anyone experiencing symptoms such as fevers, swollen glands, sores or a rash should self-isolate and call HealthLink at 811.

“These are common symptoms and most people with these symptoms will have another cause. However, being aware of these symptoms is particularly important for anyone who has recently had a new sexual partner or anyone who believes they have been in prolonged, close contact with someone with monkeypox.”

On the COVID front, Hinshaw said indicators show the number of cases is falling and the number of people in hospital is down 20 per cent over the last two weeks.

“We know we have the benefit of the summer season on our side to further drive down transmission. However, that being said, it is important to remember that learning to live with COVID does not mean forgetting about it.”

Hinshaw reminded Albertans who have not been fully vaccinated to get their shots. Less than half of Albertans eligible for a third dose have gotten it, she said. Albertans who are 12 and older and got their last dose at least five months ago are eligible for a booster.

Hinshaw was asked if fourth doses will be available soon to a wider part of the population. Health officials have been talking to national and provincial advisory committees and they have not recommended expanding the population eligible for a fourth dose.

The latest data indicates that with people under the age of 70 “we’re not seeing increased risk of severe outcomes if they had that third dose or that first booster.”

Conclusions may change and health officials will be watching closely, she added.

— With files from The Canadian Press



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