Interior Health confirms first cases of monkeypox

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There are now two confirmed cases in the health region and 98 across British Columbia

Interior Health has recorded its first two cases of monkeypox, although the communities linked to the cases have not been identified.

The cases were confirmed as of August 11. To date, there have been 98 cases of monkeypox in the province: 81 in Vancouver Coastal, nine in Fraser Health, six in Island Health and two in Interior Health. Most people with monkeypox in British Columbia have mild symptoms and don’t need any specific intervention, according to the BC Center for Disease Control.

In Canada, 1,059 cases have been recorded.

Interior Health said it was following federal and provincial guidelines on the use of the vaccine to protect those most at risk of contracting monkeypox.

The vaccine is not recommended for the general public, Interior Health said, noting that it provides vaccinations by appointment.

According to Interior Health, to receive a pre-exposure vaccination, you must be at least 18 years old, transgender, gay or bisexual, and other men who have sex with men with at least the one of the following:

• Have been diagnosed with a bacterial sexually transmitted disease within the last two months;

• Having had two or more sexual partners in the past 21 days;

• Having frequented venues or other places of sexual contact in the past 21 days (eg, public baths, sex clubs, playing in a park) or intending to do so;

• Have had anonymous/casual sex in the past 21 days (eg using apps, online sites, formal/informal encounters) or intend to have sex;

• Have traveled to a community where there have been confirmed cases of monkeypox within the past 21 days or plan to do so;

• Have engaged in or plan to engage in sex work, either as a worker or as a client.

Due to the limited availability of the vaccine, people who show up for an appointment but do not meet the above criteria will not receive a vaccination.

Vaccination appointments can be booked online at this inner health web page. Drop-ins are not accepted. Local public health is also reaching out to known contacts of cases who may be at risk of developing monkeypox.

On July 23, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of monkeypox, ensuring countries work together to manage and stop the outbreak.

Health officials say the monkeypox virus does not spread easily from person to person. All identified local transmissions have involved prolonged skin-to-skin contact, which is believed to be the main way the virus spreads.

Symptoms of monkeypox infection usually appear one to two weeks after exposure, but can take five to 21 days to appear. The disease can occur in two stages, with flu-like symptoms appearing first, followed by a rash, usually accompanied by sores or blisters. However, many people only get the rash. People are considered contagious from the time symptoms first appear until the sores crust over, are dry and new skin is visible.

While the World Health Organization has said most, but not all, recent global infections have been among men who identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, the virus can affect anyone through close person-to-person contact.

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