Canada’s public health agency has issued a travel notice as the monkeypox virus continues to spread around the world.
Travellers are advised to practise enhanced health precautions under the Level 2 advisory.
“Clusters of monkeypox cases have been reported in several countries internationally, outside of areas in Central and West Africa where cases are normally found,” a Tuesday release from the Public Health Agency (PHAC) said. “During your travel, you may be subject to procedures at your destination put in place to limit the spread of monkeypox, such as isolation, should you become infected.”
Canadians may also have limited access to timely and appropriate health care, should they become ill, and could experience delays returning to the country, PHAC warned.
The travel advisory didn’t list any specific countries, but cases of monkeypox have been reported in places like the U.K. and U.S.
“PHAC is working closely with international, provincial and territorial health partners to gather information on this evolving issue,” the agency said.
In Canada so far, Quebec has reported 90 cases of monkeypox and administered 813 vaccine doses. Five cases have also been found in Ontario and one in Alberta.
An additional case has been detected in British Columbia and has been confirmed by the BC Centre for Disease Control but is awaiting further confirmation from the National Microbiology Laboratory.
PHAC recommends consulting with a health-care professional or visiting a travel health clinic at least six weeks before travelling. Wearing a face mask, frequent handwashing and avoiding close physical contact with people who are sick is also recommended.
Since May, more than 700 cases of monkeypox have been found in non-endemic countries, primarily in Europe, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Monkeypox spreads through contact with sores and items like bedding or towels that have the virus on them. It can also spread through respiratory droplets, distributed by coughs or sneeze.
Though it can transmit through close contact during sexual activity, it isn’t known to spread through semen or vaginal or rectal fluids.
The CDC has advised people who have been exposed to monitor for symptoms, which can present between five and 21 days after exposure.
They should also limit close contact, including sexual contact, with others.
Symptoms consist primarily of skin lesions on the mouth and genitals, and can also include fever, headaches, and joint and muscle pain, according to the World Health Organization.
Anyone who develops symptoms is asked to visit a health-care professional, wear a mask and cover the lesions, and inform the clinic ahead of time.
“Anyone, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, could get infected and spread the virus if they come into close contact, including intimate sexual contact with an infected person or a contaminated object,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a briefing last Friday.
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