Montreal public health authority probing 17 cases of suspected monkeypox | CBC News

Montreal’s top public health official is urging people not to panic as her department investigates 17 cases of suspected monkeypox in the greater Montreal region.

At a news conference Thursday morning, Dr. Mylène Drouin said there are 15 suspected cases on the island of Montreal, one on the South Shore and another north of Laval.

“Most of our cases are not severe,” said Drouin, adding officials are still awaiting lab results to confirm whether they are, in fact, monkeypox. 

Until now, monkeypox outbreaks have been limited mostly to central and western Africa, but in recent weeks, suspected cases have been identified in the U.S., U.K., Portugal and Spain.

Drouin said the first cases in Montreal were reported on May 12 by clinics specializing in sexually transmitted diseases. She said those cases are tied mostly to men aged 30 to 55 who have had sexual relations with other men.

The virus is not a sexually transmitted infection, Drouin said, but one that is “mainly transmitted by close contact and [respiratory] droplets.”

“It’s not something that you can acquire when you [do your groceries] or on public transportation,” she said.   

The virus is known to spread through a variety of ways — including respiratory droplets, open sores, contact with bodily fluids, or by touching contaminated clothes or bedding. 

Likened to a milder form of smallpox, monkeypox is a rare viral illness that typically begins with symptoms such as fever, headache, backache and fatigue — similar to symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu. But doctors say the most noticeable symptom is a rash or lesions on the skin.

Montreal public health officials don’t believe the virus will circulate in the community as it’s not highly infectious, Drouin said.

She said all people with suspected cases are in isolation and have been asked to cover their skin lesions with bandages.

Drouin described “significant contact cases” as “those in the same household and sexual partners.” She urged anyone with symptoms to consult a doctor.

The news conference came after Quebec’s Health Ministry said in a statement late Wednesday it had been notified of a person with a confirmed case of monkeypox who travelled to the province. 

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed a single case of monkeypox on Wednesday in a man who had recently travelled to Canada. It did not specify to which province the man had travelled. 

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