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First monkeypox case confirmed in Simcoe Muskoka

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The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) has confirmed a case of the monkeypox in its medical region.

Health officials did not say where the individual lives within the region, but did say they work mainly in Toronto “where they most likely acquired the infection.” 

The individual is currently isolating and all close contacts have been notified, according to officials.

“At this time the risk to the general population remains low, as we have not detected the virus circulating in Simcoe Muskoka, and it does not spread easily,” said Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Colin Lee. “Residents should not be concerned about going about their routine everyday activities. The health unit continues to closely monitor the situation.”

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SMDHU officials say symptoms of the virus typically develop five to 21 days after exposure and last from two to four weeks. They happen in two stages and may include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headache, muscle, joint and back pain, and exhaustion. A rash lasting between 14 and 21 days may also develop on the face or extremities, as well as the hands, feet, mouth and genitals that later form scabs.

The officials add anyone diagnosed with monkeypox must isolate until all scabs have fallen off and have healed, which typically happens in two to four weeks. They add it’s usually a “mild illness” and people are able to, usually, recover on their own. 

“We advise any person who develops symptoms or who has had contact with a suspected or known case of monkeypox to contact their healthcare provider immediately,” Lee says. “Monkeypox can affect anyone of any age, gender or sexual orientation. Currently, monkeypox is predominantly affecting men who have sex with men, and the most likely way it is being passed on is through close, intimate contact due to the increased skin-to-skin contact.”

Health officials say the disease is rare in North America. It’s spread through close contact with a person infected with the virus or their clothing or linens. It enters the body, according to the officials, through skin-to-skin contact with bodily fluids and through mucus membranes or respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact.

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