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The Grey Bruce Health Unit is reporting the first laboratory-confirmed case of monkeypox in Grey Bruce.

In a July 9 media release, the person diagnosed with the illness resides in Grey Bruce but most likely acquired the infection while visiting the Greater Toronto Area. The individual is currently self-isolating at home.

Health unit staff have determined that the individual had only one close contact in the area and is following up with that person.

Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health Dr Ian Arra said that while the case has been confirmed in Grey Bruce, the risk to the community remains very low.

“Only individuals who have had close, direct contact with a person with monkeypox are at risk of acquiring the infection," Arra said. "This is not a virus that spreads easily. Anyone experiencing symptoms is advised to self-isolate at home and contact their healthcare provider immediately.”

Human monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease, which, historically, has rarely been reported outside of Africa. However, the virus has been confirmed in more than two dozen countries, including Canada, during the current, multi-country monkeypox outbreak.

The virus was first reported in Canada on May 19, 2022. As of July 6, Canadian provinces and territories have publicly reported a combined 358 cases, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Just over 100 of those cases have been reported in Ontario.

Monkeypox infections are typically mild, with most people recovering on their own in two to four weeks. However, the virus can cause severe illness and death in some individuals.

Symptoms of monkeypox, which usually develop five to 21 days after exposure, occur in two stages. The first stage can include fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, and lethargy. A rash or lesions develop in the second stage, usually within one to three days after the fever starts. The rash typically begins on the face before spreading to other parts of the body.

Monkeypox can spread from person to person through close contact with an infected individual’s bodily fluids or skin lesions. It can also be transmitted when a person comes into contact with contaminated clothing or bedding.

A person is considered infectious from the start of their symptoms and until the rash or lesions have crusted over and the scabs have dried up and fallen off.

All symptomatic individuals are advised to self-isolate at home. Anyone diagnosed with monkeypox must isolate until all scabs have fallen off and have healed.