For information on the situation in Canada, refer to the
Public Health Agency of Canada
More than 700 cases of monkeypox infection have been found in non-endemic countries since May 2022, with the majority identified in Europe. Infections caused by a West African clade have also been diagnosed in Canada and the United States. This clade tends to cause mild disease.
While most, but not all, recent global infections are among young men who identify as men who have sex with other men, the virus can affect anyone through close person-to-person contact.
B.C. is working closely with federal and provincial partners including the National Microbiology Laboratory and Public Health Agency of Canada. Local public health is following up with all known contacts of the cases. We will update this information as we learn more about the current outbreak.
Monkeypox can spread from animals to humans, from person to person and through contaminated objects.
- Monkeypox is spread through contact with sores and items like bedding or towels that have monkeypox virus. It can also spread through respiratory droplets such as coughs and sneezes during close, face-to-face contact with a person who has monkeypox.
- Monkeypox is not known to infect people through sex, like syphilis or HIV. This means the virus does not spread through semen, vaginal or rectal fluids and is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can spread through close contact during sexual activity.
Symptoms can last 2 to 4 weeks and occur in two stages. In the first stage, symptoms can include:
- Intense headache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Back pain
- Muscle pain
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- Other less common symptoms can include sore throat, cough, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea
The second stage usually starts 1 to 5 days after the first stage.
Second stage symptoms can include:
- A rash that often starts on the face or legs and arms, and can affect other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, mouth and genitals.
- Monkeypox sores usually last between 2 to 3 weeks. The sores change in appearance over time from raised spots to small blisters filled with fluid. They eventually form a scab and fall off.
Some people experience symptoms differently. For example, they may not experience first-stage symptoms but will develop sores. They may develop sores on only one or a few parts of the body.
Image credit: United Kingdom
- Public health is following up with all known contacts of the cases.
- Monitor for symptoms if you have had contact with a person with known or suspected monkeypox.
- It can take around 1 to 3 weeks after exposure for a person to develop symptoms.
- Contact your healthcare provider to get tested. Tell your healthcare provider if you have had contact with a person with known or suspected monkeypox.
- Stay home and self-isolate until you see a healthcare provider.
- Stay away from people you live with if you can and do not share towels, clothing or linens.
- If possible, ask other members of your household, family or friends to look after any pets so you do not spread monkeypox to animals.
- If monkeypox is confirmed, public health will contact you to give more instructions.
- Monkeypox is usually a mild illness and most people recover on their own after a few weeks.
- There are no well-established treatments for monkeypox. Antiviral medication may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Health Canada maintains a limited stockpile of a vaccine that protects against monkeypox (Imvamune™).
- It has been distributed to provincial and territorial public health authorities to help manage the outbreak.
- In B.C., medical health officers may recommend the vaccine for some people who are close contacts of a person with monkeypox.
- The vaccine is not currently available to the general public as there is a limited supply of the vaccine and relatively few cases.
Read more about the vaccine
Most of the recent monkeypox cases are happening through close contacts between men who identify as having sex with other men.
Stigmatizing people because of a disease is never okay. Anyone can get or pass on monkeypox, regardless of their sexuality.
The 2SGBTQ+ community can
Be aware: Know the symptoms of a monkeypox infection.
Watch for symptoms: Look for new ulcers or blisters on your body.
See a doctor or nurse: Seek medical care if you have symptoms.
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