What you need to know about monkeypox in Saskatchewan

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After the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) issued a warning about an elevated risk of acquiring monkeypox in the province, there a number of things you may need to know moving forward.

On Saturday, Aug. 13, SHA confirmed there are three cases of monkeypox in the province. While the cases so far have been from people exposed outside of Saskatchewan, there are now people who have been exposed inside the province.

Read more: Sask Health alerts public of elevated risk of acquiring monkeypox

Monkeypox is a rare viral illness that causes fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes and lethargy, followed by the development of a rash over a person’s body. Monkeypox does not spread easily from person to person. It is spread through:

  • Close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact.
  • Touching bodily fluids or lesions of a person who is sick with the disease.
  • Exposure to contaminated objects such as bed linens or clothing.

Dr. Saqib Shahab, the chief medical health officer for Saskatchewan, said the cases thus far have been happening almost exclusively to those in the gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (gbMSM) community.

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“We think now that there is a higher risk that we may see ongoing transmission within Saskatchewan … particularly in this community,” Shahab said.

Shahab noted these trends are very similar to what has been seen across Canada, and urges anyone at risk to contact the Healthline 811.

“If you belong to the gbMSM community it’s really important that at the first sign of illness you do contact the Healthline (811) for advice and seek testing and isolate till the diagnosis is made,” Shahab said.

As monkeypox is primarily spread through close contact, Saskatoon Sexual Health (SSH) is warning people about the difference between and STI and monkeypox.

“It is important to note that monkeypox is not an STI,” the SSH board said in an email. “However, it is spread through close contact, which sexual partners often have. Anyone can get monkeypox and it is not exclusive to gay and bisexual people. Monkeypox is spread through any close, person-to-person contact, including but not limited to sexual contact.”

Read more: 18+ eligible for 2nd COVID-19 vaccine booster in Saskatchewan on Monday

There are a number of things you can do to help prevent monkeypox from being spread.

“Wash your hands often, wear a mask, and avoid touching your face,” SSH said. “If someone has been exposed to monkeypox they should monitor for symptoms and if they do develop symptoms they should stay home, self-isolate and limit contact with household members until any lesions have healed and respiratory symptoms have resolved.”

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Vaccines are another way people in Saskatchewan can help protect themselves.

The SHA announced that Monkeypox vaccine requirements would be expanded to both post and pre exposure, following the alert.

Those eligible for vaccinations include select high-risk contacts 18 years and older who are identified ideally within 4 days and up to 14 days after an exposure. Those who are at a high risk of exposure are also eligible. The SHA’s criteria includes:

  •  Are transgender or self-identify as two spirit, bisexual, gay or men who have sex with men (MSM)

And one or more of the following:

  •  Have had a recent sexually transmitted infection (in the past six months);
  •  Report having had two or more sexual partners in the past six months;
  •  Had (in the past six months) or plan to have sexual contact involving an exchange of money or other goods for sexual services;
  •  Report having had (in the past six months) or planning to have sexual contact at an event or social gathering where there is MSM-themed sexual activity (sauna, bath house, club);
  •  Have had (in the past six months) or plan to have sexual contact with an anonymous partner (at an event or via a hook-up app);
  •  Planning to travel in the next three months to an area in Canada or internationally currently reporting monkeypox cases;

Or:

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  •  Individuals 18 years and older who work or volunteer at an event or social gathering where there is MSM themed sexual activity (sauna, bath house, club).

More information on monkeypox can be found on SHA’s website.

2:00Sask Health alerts public of elevated risk of acquiring monkeypox Sask Health alerts public of elevated risk of acquiring monkeypox

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