What is Mpox?
Mpox is a viral infection that occurs mostly in Central and West Africa, where there are tropical forests and animals that carry the virus.
How is it transmitted?
Person-to-person transmission can occur through close and prolonged contact with skin lesions such as sores and blisters, or through infected respiratory secretions from an infected person coughing and sneezing during close, face-to-face contact over several hours, or with objects (clothes, bed sheets or towels) recently contaminated with fluids from the infectious person or materials from lesions. It can also be transmitted to an unborn child.
Anyone who has close contact with someone who is infectious is at risk.
It is not known to transmit through casual contact, such as shopping or travelling on a plane.
Mpox is spread through close contact, often between people during intimate and sexual activities.
What are the symptoms?
Signs and symptoms include headache, fever, chills, general discomfort, fatigue, muscle and back pain, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, night sweats, rash and skin lesions. Many have had oral and genital skin lesions.
Are there any complications?
For most people, the illness will be mild and will resolve on its own within two to four weeks. A few may develop complications such as secondary infections, pneumonia, sepsis, encephalitis, meningitis and eye infections.
Who is at greater risk of severe forms of the disease?
People who are immunocompromised, young children and pregnant women.
Is there a treatment?
There are no specific treatments for Mpox virus infection. Symptoms of Mpox usually resolve on their own. Treatment usually involves control of the symptoms such as fever and dehydration.
If a case of Mpox is severe, doctors may treat it with a new antiviral call Tecovirimat, and/or hospitalization.
There is a vaccine that has been proven effective at preventing Mpox or attenuating its symptoms. It is the Imvamune vaccine. One to two doses of vaccine are needed, depending on one’s risk of being in contact with the virus. This vaccine is safe and has been authorized by Health Canada. Vaccination is a great way to protect against Mpox.
Who can get an Mpox vaccine?
This vaccine can be administered before or after exposure to the disease. It is reserved for the people targeted by public-health authorities. To learn more:
The risk of Mpox is not limited to people who are sexually active. The virus does not discriminate between sex, sexual orientation, sexuality, gender identity, age or ethnicity.
How can I get an Mpox vaccine?
If you think you are eligible for vaccination, call your CLSC, ask for your public-health nurse or COVID nurse and ask for a vaccine. It is available in every community. You can see any health-care provider you trust: services are confidential.
Why get vaccinated if the body naturally fights off the disease?
Recovery from Mpox can take a while. Symptoms are visible and evident. It can leave spots and scars on the skin. In rare cases, Mpox can result in serious complications requiring hospitalization or even causing death.
The vaccine can also reduce the risks of spreading the disease to family and friends and in the community.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
The most common side effects of the vaccine are pain at the site of injection, nausea, headaches, muscle pain and fatigue.
In most cases, side effects are mild and disappear quickly a few days after vaccination. To learn more about possible side effects of the Imvamune vaccine:
What should I do if I think I have Mpox?
If you think you have or have had symptoms similar to Mpox, you should call your CLSC and ask for an appointment.
Tests are available to confirm the diagnosis. People who have Mpox can prevent transmission to others with simple measures.
Until you see a doctor or a nurse, take the following precautions to avoid spreading Mpox to others:
- Wear a mask;
- Do not share towels, clothing, sheets or other items that have touched your skin;
- Maintain a distance with others, including people you live with. Avoid sexual contact;
- Clean your hands and objects and surfaces that you touch regularly;
- Keep any sores or blisters covered as much as possible by wearing long sleeves and long pants.
Anyone who has symptoms that could be Mpox should seek advice from a health-care provider immediately.
What should I do if I think I have been in contact with someone who has Mpox?
Asymptomatic contacts may be offered a smallpox vaccine to prevent the disease. They may continue with routine daily activities. Symptoms monitoring is recommended for a period of 21 days after the last contact with Mpox. Contacts who show symptoms should call their CLSC.
It is recommended to avoid intimate and sexual contact and, if you live with a suspected or confirmed case, avoid sleeping in the same bed, limit your contacts with them and wear a mask in their presence.