Two cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in Quebec, the first such cases in the country
The agency says it has alerted public health authorities around Canada to look for symptoms in patients, regardless of whether they’ve travelled.
“This is an evolving and ongoing investigation, both in Canada and around the world,” PHAC said in a statement on Thursday.
Earlier on Thursday, Montreal’s top public health official urged people not to panic as her department investigated 17 cases of suspected monkeypox in the greater Montreal region.
Dr. Mylène Drouin said there were 15 suspected cases on the island of Montreal, one on the South Shore and another north of Laval.
It’s not clear if the two cases confirmed by PHAC are among those 17.
“Most of our cases are not severe,” said Drouin.
Until now, monkeypox outbreaks have been limited mostly to central and western Africa, but in recent weeks, suspected cases have been identified in the U.S., U.K., Portugal and Spain.
Drouin said the first cases in Montreal were reported on May 12 by clinics specializing in sexually transmitted diseases. She said those cases are tied mostly to men aged 30 to 55 who have had sexual relations with other men.
The virus is not sexually transmitted, Drouin explained, but is mainly spread “by close contact and [respiratory] droplets.”
It is also spread by open sores, contact with bodily fluids, or by touching contaminated clothes or bedding.
“It’s not something that you can acquire when you [do your groceries] or on public transportation,” she said.
Drouin described those at risk of contracting the virus as “those in the same household and sexual partners.” She urged anyone with symptoms to consult a doctor.