DAN CEARNS, The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: Kawartha Lakes’ local health unit has reported its first case of Monkeypox in a neighbouring municipality.

On Wednesday, July 27th, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) confirmed the case of a resident from Northumberland County.

An HKPR press release stated, the resident “is currently recovering and in isolation.”

“The HKPR District Health Unit has also completed follow-up with this individual and has contacted anyone else who may have had close contact with this case, including those who may require vaccination against the virus,” the press release added.

In a statement, HKPR medical officer of health, Dr. Natalie Bocking, stated, the health unit was expecting to report a case of the virus at some point.

“We want to reassure everyone, we are notifying and following up with all close contacts. The risk to the public is low,” she stated. “Monkeypox cases have been circulating in Ontario for a couple of months, including in our neighbouring health unit regions, so the finding of a local case is not a surprise.”

However, Dr. Bocking stressed the importance of remaining vigilant at this time.

“While Monkeypox is not easily spread between individuals, we do encourage people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the virus and [to] seek medical attention if symptoms start to present. Our experience with COVID-19, and the recent rise in Monkeypox cases, highlight the risk that infectious diseases can emerge and quickly spread around the world. A strong system of public health response continues to be essential.”

The finding of the first case comes just four days after the World Health Organization declared the worldwide outbreak of Monkeypox to be “a public health emergency of international concern.”

In the press release, the health unit explained what symptoms are associated with Monkeypox.

“Monkeypox can be spread from human to human through close, direct contact with infected bodily fluids (i.e. lesions, blisters) or respiratory droplets (i.e. coughing). While Monkeypox is in the same family as smallpox, Monkeypox is less contagious and includes milder symptoms. People usually develop symptoms five to 21 days after being exposed to the Monkeypox virus. Symptoms can include: rash or blister in the mouth and around genital areas; swollen lymph nodes; fever and chills; muscle aches; headaches; and exhaustion. Anyone who experiences symptoms of Monkeypox should seek immediate medical attention. Monkeypox symptoms can be managed, and individuals typically recover within two to four weeks. A vaccine is also available for either pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis associated with confirmed cases.”