The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is working with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and public health authorities in the province of Quebec to investigate potential exposure and contacts of a case of monkeypox recently identified in the United States.
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The U.S. citizen had recently travelled to Canada from the U.S. The individual travelled by private transportation and may have been infected before or during his visit to Montreal, Quebec.
As part of the ongoing investigation, health partners have identified individuals in Canada who have signs and symptoms which could be consistent with monkeypox infection. The National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) is undertaking additional testing to confirm or rule out a diagnosis of monkeypox for these individuals.
Tonight, the Province of Quebec was notified that two samples received by the NML have tested positive for monkeypox. These are the first two cases confirmed in Canada.
Australian authorities said they had identified a probable case of monkeypox infection in a traveller who had recently returned from Europe, with confirmatory testing underway.
A man in his 40s developed a mild illness several days after arriving back in Sydney with symptoms clinically compatible with monkeypox, New South Wales (NSW) state health department said. The man and a household contact are isolating at home.
Italy announced that the country's first case of monkeypox had been identified, with the patient isolated at a hospital in Rome.
According to news reports, the infected patient had returned to Italy from a vacation in Spain's Canary Islands. The patient is being cared for at Rome's Spallanzani Hospital, one of the country's top hospitals for infectious diseases.
In a statement, the hospital said it was monitoring two other possible cases of the viral disease.
The country's National Health Institute (ISS) said it had formed a special task force to "continuously monitor the national situation," and the Italian Ministry of Health has called on the regions to monitor their hospitals for other cases.
The Public Health Agency of Sweden confirmed the country's first case of monkeypox.
"This is a very unusual disease. The agency is now investigating together with the regional infection control units if there are more cases in Sweden," Klara Sonden, a doctor specializing in infectious diseases and an investigator at the agency, said in a press release.
"The person in Sweden who has been confirmed to be infected with the virus is not seriously ill but has received care. We do not yet know where the person became infected. Investigation is ongoing," Sonden said.
Monkeypox is a zoonotic infectious disease found in parts of central and West Africa that result in occasional human infections usually associated with exposure to infected animals or contaminated materials.
Limited cases have been identified in other regions in the past, including the United Kingdom, United States, Israel and Singapore, but never before in Canada. For the recent international cases, it is not yet certain how the individuals were exposed to monkeypox virus.
Person to person spread of monkeypox is uncommon.
However, when spread does occur between people the mode of transmission is through close contact with an infected individual, such as through direct contact with their body fluids, respiratory droplets, or monkeypox sores, or by sharing clothing, bedding or common items that have been contaminated with the infected person's fluids or sores.
As with many other diseases spread through close contact, people can lower their risk by maintaining physical distance, frequent hand and respiratory hygiene including masking.
Signs and symptoms of monkeypox can typically include fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that often appears within a few days after symptoms such as fever develop.
The incubation period is typically 6–16 days but can be up to 21. ■