Contract tracing in effect to try to halt spread of monkeypox in N.B.

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Public Health is contact tracing to try to limit the spread of monkeypox in New Brunswick.

The province’s first confirmed case of the virus, announced last Friday, had not travelled out of New Brunswick, said Dr. Yves Léger, the deputy chief medical officer of health.

This “reasonably” means the person got the virus either from a New Brunswick resident or somebody travelling in the province, Léger said in an interview Tuesday on Shift.

To limit the spread of the virus, Public Health has been following up on the case’s contacts and trying to find the potential source of the infection.

“We’re also looking back to try and see where the case may have acquired their infection,” Léger said.

Dr. Yves Léger, deputy chief medical officer of health, said it’s ‘concerning’ the first confirmed case in New Brunswick was exposed to the virus in the province. (Pascal Raiche-Nogue/Radio-Canada)

New Brunswick was given 140 doses of the monkeypox vaccine, which are being kept for managing close contacts of any identified cases of the virus. 

From the original batch, a few doses have been offered to a few contacts of the confirmed case, said Léger. 

Léger said Public Health is having discussions with the federal government to get a “significant increase” in the vaccine supply. Public Health would then like to make it available to at-risk groups to try to prevent more cases.

Léger said the virus is transmissible from an infected person to another when they are in close or direct contact. However, monkeypox is “not as easily transmissible from a person to another” as SARS-CoV-2. So the risk to the general public remains low, he said. 

“Those that are at highest risk of being infected are typically either household contacts with people who live with a case, who share space regularly for many hours, who contact the same environments, for example, or are intimate sexual partners.”

After exposure, symptoms usually tend to appear in six to 21 days. 

The first symptoms, called the prodrome which appear before the monkeypox rash, include:

A couple of days later, a rash develops after the fever. The rash often starts on the face but can affect other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, mouth and genitals.

The rash typically starts out as being flattened reddish spots, and changes to raised bumps that can have fluid in them.

“That typical picture from start to finish can take, you know, between two to four weeks between the time that the first symptoms appear to the rash is fully gone and healed,” said Léger.

Closeup of a a hand sticking a need tip into an upside down vial of monkeypox vaccine.
Public Health is hopeful it will get a significant increase in monkeypox vaccines, says Léger. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

However, the progression doesn’t always happen in the same way. 

“Sometimes the rash is the first thing to appear before other symptoms, and sometimes the rash spreads out throughout the body,” said Léger.

The person infected with monkeypox is recovering well, he said.

“At this point in time, Public Health continues to monitor their situation very closely.”



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