The number of new monkey pox cases may decline in BC after months of stability, local health officials say.
On Wednesday, 158 cases had been confirmed so far in BC, up 33 cases from about a month ago.
In a surveillance report released this week, the BC Center for Disease Control said the weekly incidence of confirmed cases was stable in July and August and “may be beginning to decline.” The center also reiterated that the “vast majority” of cases were likely transmitted through close, intimate contact during sex.
The majority of cases, 129 of them, were reported in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region. Seventeen were reported in Fraser Health, six in Island Health and six in Interior Health, according to the BCCDC.
Across Canada, 1,379 cases were confirmed on September 21. About 86 percent of cases in Canada were reported in Ontario and Quebec.
The first case of BC was announced on June 6, although data from the BCCDC shows that the cases were confirmed on May 22 and 29.
THOUSANDS OF VACCINE DOSES
More than 18,000 doses of the Imvamune vaccine have been administered in BC in an effort to reduce the number of cases. Most doses were given in July and August, although some received an injection in September.
Health authorities have restrictions on who can get a vaccine due to limited supplies.
Misidentifying yourself as eligible for the monkeypox vaccine diverts this critical tool away from the people most at risk, limiting its usefulness in preventing further transmission and protecting the wider population from a larger outbreak. says a statement from Vancouver Coastal Health.
Vancouver Coastal Health says two-spirit, transgender people and cisgender men who self-identify as belonging to the gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men’s communities are eligible. It is also available to people identified as having close contact with a confirmed case.
Those with symptoms that could be from monkeypox cannot get a vaccine.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
There are two stages of symptoms, although some may experience them out of sequence, or maybe not both.
Stage 1 includes fever, chills, “intense headache,” swollen lymph nodes, back pain, muscle aches and fatigue, the BCCDC says. Some also experience a sore throat, cough, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Stage 2 usually starts one to five days later, and this is when the “smallpox” appears.
Sores, blisters, or rashes — often on the hands, feet, legs, mouth, arms, and genitals — can change in appearance and eventually crust over and fall off. This can take up to two weeks.
Anyone who has been exposed is asked to check themselves for symptoms, bearing in mind that they may not notice anything for three weeks. They should contact their regional health authority if they have not already been contacted.
Those who become ill with what they believe to be monkeypox should contact a doctor to get tested as soon as possible. While waiting for confirmation, they should avoid close contact with others and not share towels, clothes, sheets or anything that comes into contact with the skin.
With files from CTV News’ Kendra Mangione