Monkeypox in B.C.? ‘Couple’ cases looked into, but still no confirmation of the disease

Hours after the country’s top doctor suggested there could be a “couple” of cases of monkeypox in British Columbia, provincial officials said it’s been determined those people do not have the disease.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control said Friday afternoon that there were two reported cases that could have been the disease, but that public health officials interviewed those people.

It was determined that they were not considered contacts of known cases and had not been exposed.

“No suspect cases or contacts of monkeypox are under investigation in B.C. at this time,” the BCCDC said in a statement.

“B.C. continues to work closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada and public health will follow up with anyone thought to be exposed to monkeypox.”

The news came hours after Canada’s top doctor, Dr. Theresa Tam, said in a news conference that officials are investigating what could be the disease in a couple of people who live in the province.

“Right now I would say just under a couple of dozen people under investigation by local authorities mainly in Quebec but a couple of contacts being followed up in British Columbia as well, but only two cases confirmed (in the country),” she said.

“There are samples under processing at the National Microbiology Lab as we speak so we might expect to hear more confirmations in the upcoming hours and days. “

She said local authorities are doing contact tracing, so right now, they don’t know the extent of the spread in Canada.

“So far we do know that not many of these individuals are connected to travel to Africa, where the disease is normally seen. So this is unusual,” she said.

WHAT IS MONKEYPOX?

Monkeypox was discovered in the late 1950s, and is a disease caused by a similar virus as the one that causes smallpox.

Symptoms are similar as well, including fever, chills, exhaustion, and head, muscle and back ache. Unlike smallpox, it can also cause lymph node swelling, and it’s considered to be more mild.

Later, those who’ve been infected get a rash and raised bumps filled with fluid. Those bumps turn to scabs over time and fall off.

Anyone who has developed signs or symptoms, including these blisters, should get advice from their doctor.

The name comes from its discovery – it was first found in colonies of monkeys that were being used for research.

A number of countries including the U.S. and U.K. are experiencing an outbreak of the disease, which is more commonly found in central and western Africa.

“It’s unusual for the world to see this many cases reported in different countries outside of Africa,” Tam said Friday.

Health officials say the virus is transmitted through close contact with an infected person, and while it’s generally transmitted through large respiratory droplets, Tam said Friday it may even be transmitted through contaminated clothing.

Read more about its history on CTVNews.ca

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Alyse Kotyk and CTV News’ Solarina Ho

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