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Monkeypox outbreak: Canada reports 477 cases amid global scare

Ottawa: The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) confirmed a total of 477 cases of monkeypox in the country as of Wednesday. PHAC provided an update on these confirmed cases which included 284 cases from Quebec, 156 from Ontario, 29 from British Columbia, and eight from Alberta, Xinhua news agency reported. Going forward, case numbers may change as provinces and territories continue to receive confirmatory testing results from PHAC`s National Microbiology Laboratory, PHAC said.

According to PHAC, provinces and territories are reviewing case data in their jurisdictions, and those meeting the case definition will be reported to PHAC to be included in the national investigation. National Microbiology Laboratory is performing diagnostic testing for the virus that causes monkeypox. In addition, the laboratory is conducting whole genome sequencing, an enhanced fingerprint analysis, on Canadian samples of monkeypox, PHAC said. ALSO READ: Mahatma Gandhi’s statue desecrated at Hindu temple in Canada, India says ‘hateful act’ has ‘deeply hurt’ sentiments

Monkeypox is a sylvatic zoonosis that may cause infections in humans and the disease usually occurs in forested parts of Central and West Africa. It is caused by the monkeypox virus which belongs to the orthopoxvirus family, according to the World Health Organization.

What exactly is the monkeypox virus?

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that resembles human smallpox. It was discovered in 1958 in research monkeys, and the first human case of monkeypox was reported in 1970. The disease is mostly found in tropical rainforests of Central and West Africa. The virus is a member of the Poxviridae family, which also includes the viruses that cause smallpox and cowpox disease.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Monkeypox typically manifests as a fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes, and it can lead to a variety of medical complications. Symptoms usually last two to four weeks and the disease is self-limiting. Severe cases are also possible. In recent years, the case fatality ratio has been reported to be around 3-6%, but it can reach 10%. There have been no reported deaths in the current outbreak.

How is the monkeypox virus transmitted?

Monkeypox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or through contact with virus-contaminated material. Rodents such as rats, mice, and squirrels are said to spread it. Monkeypox is spread via lesions, bodily fluids, respiratory droplets, and contaminated materials such as bedding. However, the virus is less contagious than smallpox and causes less severe illness.

How are cases of monkeypox treated?

Vaccines used to eradicate smallpox also provided protection against monkeypox. Newer vaccines have been developed, one of which has been approved for disease prevention. According to WHO, an antiviral agent developed for the treatment of smallpox has also been licenced for the treatment of monkeypox.