What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. On July 23, 2022, the World Health Organization declared the global monkeypox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
It is found mostly in areas of Africa but has been seen in other areas of the world. Recently, Monkeypox virus has been found in countries where it is not endemic (not usually found).
There is no proven treatment for monkeypox, although antiviral treatment is available for severe cases. Monkeypox usually goes away on its own.
How do you get it?
Monkeypox typically does not spread easily between people. Person-to-person spread may occur through:
- sexual or intimate contact with an infected person
- contact with clothing or linens (such as bedding or towels) used by an infected person
- direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions or scabs
- respiratory transmission from an individual with monkeypox.
The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), the respiratory tract or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth).
Anyone who has had close, prolonged contact with someone who is infected with monkeypox or who has touched contaminated objects (clothing, bedding, towels, eating utensil and dishes) is at risk of becoming infected.
Monkeypox is usually a mild illness, with most people recovering on their own after a few weeks; however, some may have severe illness and need to be hospitalized. People typically develop symptoms five to 21 days after being exposed to the monkeypox virus. Symptoms occur in two stages and typically last from two to four weeks.
In stage one, symptoms may include:
- swollen lymph nodes
- muscle pain
- joint pain
- back pain
In stage two of the illness, a rash develops - usually within one to three days (sometimes longer) after the fever starts. The rash often starts on the face or extremities, however it can affect other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, mouth and genitals.
The rash can last between 14 and 21 days and changes through different stages before finally forming a scab which later falls off.
- Imvamune® vaccine is approved in Canada for protection against monkeypox.
- The vaccine contains weakened virus and cannot make you sick.
- It can be used for protection against monkeypox before getting exposed to the virus (pre-exposure prophylaxis) or after being exposed (post-exposure prophylaxis).
- Read more about the vaccine here.
- Tecovirmat (TPoxx®) is an antiviral medication that prevents the virus’ ability to multiply and therefore slows down its spread throughout the body. This allows your body to build up its defences to fight off the infection.
- Tecovirmat (TPoxx®) is currently being used for severe cases of Monkeypox and with individuals at risk for severe disease.
- Read more about Tecovirmat (TPoxx®) here.
For Further Information
Visit one of these resources:
- Monkeypox: What We Know | Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance
- Government of Canada
- World Health Organization: Monkeypox fact sheet
- Government of Ontario
- Public Health Ontario - Monkeypox
Call the TBDHU Infectious Disease Program: (807) 625-5900 or toll-free: 1-888-294-6630