Monkeypox activity in Ontario peaked in July, top doctor says

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TORONTO — Ontario’s chief medical officer says monkeypox activity in the province has peaked.

Dr. Kieran Moore says the province peaked in total active cases the week of July 15, when about 16 to 18 cases a day were being identified through PCR testing, whereas now it’s just about one a day.

Moore says most of these new cases are travel-related, particularly to U.S. hotspots, rather than people acquiring an infection in Ontario.

He says Ontario has immunized 32,175 people against monkeypox and is waiting for the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to provide advice on whether and how to start a second dose strategy.

As of this week, there have been 656 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Ontario.

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Monkeypox spreads when people have close physical contact with an infected person’s lesions, clothing, or bedding, and symptoms can include a rash, swollen lymph nodes, and fever.

Ontario’s progress is remarkable, Moore said, and the province has seen an absolute plateau.

“For me, the risk has gone down significantly in Ontario,” he said in an interview.

In its latest report released Wednesday, Public Health Ontario said there were 656 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the province the previous day, an increase of 25 from the previous week.

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The agency said 484 of the confirmed cases, or about 74%, were in Toronto, and all but five of the cases were reported in men. The average age of all confirmed cases in the province is approximately 36 years old, and the age of confirmed cases ranges from under 20 to 74 years old.

Public health says 19 people have been hospitalized with the illness in the province and two people have been in intensive care.

There are also 10 probable cases in Ontario.

Local public health units and alliances across Ontario have held vaccination clinics over the past few months for people the province has deemed to be at high risk of contracting monkeypox.

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Moore said he greatly appreciates the work done by the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance and for all those at risk who have been vaccinated or tested for symptoms.


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Number of monkeypox cases down worldwide, says WHO


Number of monkeypox cases down worldwide: WHO – August 25, 2022

“I think in a remarkably short period of time, we’ve been able to limit the spread of this virus in Ontario,” he said. “I just can’t thank everyone involved (enough), as it was clearly a success for Ontario.

The province expanded eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine in August to include a broader segment of the LGBTQ population as well as sex workers.

Until then, the priority group for the vaccine was gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men who met certain criteria.

Some advocates have criticized the strategy for not including homeless people, arguing that the population disproportionately overlaps with the LGBTQ community and sex workers.

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Public Health Ontario said most cases were in men who reported intimate contact with men, but it said anyone could get monkeypox.

Monkeypox disease comes from the same family of viruses that cause smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared eradicated worldwide in 1980. Smallpox vaccines have been shown to be effective in combating monkeypox virus.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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