Person with monkeypox at homeless shelter has been moved to isolation centre, city says

·3 min read
A colourized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox particles (teal) found within an infected cell (brown), is shown in a handout photo captured at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - image credit)
A colourized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox particles (teal) found within an infected cell (brown), is shown in a handout photo captured at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - image credit)

A person with a confirmed case of monkeypox was at a Toronto homeless shelter recently but has since been moved to the city's COVID-19 isolation and recovery site, the city says.

In an email on Sunday, the city said Toronto Public Health is working with the city's Shelter Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) to investigate whether other people at the shelter have become infected with the virus.

The city declined to name the shelter where the person went or to specify how long the person was at the shelter. The city also wouldn't say whether the shelter is experiencing an outbreak as a result of the case. An outbreak is defined as two or more cases that are linked.

The city said it initially opened the isolation and recovery site for unhoused people with complex health needs who tested positive for COVID-19, but it has now expanded its use.

"This site will also accommodate clients that require isolation due to monkeypox," the city said.

The city said it is working with health experts to limit the spread of transmissible illnesses, including monkeypox and COVID-19, in high risk settings such as shelters. It said its shelter system has "stringent" infection and control measures in place and these measures include extensive cleaning and use of personal protective equipment.

According to the city, its shelter system is working with infection prevention and control specialists, known as Practice Health Check, to curb the spread of communicable diseases in shelters. These specialists are conducting audits, training and planning sessions with shelter providers to help them manage outbreaks. One session in June focused on monkeypox.

When there is a need for unhoused people with monkeypox or COVID-19 to isolate at a shelter hotel, plans will be developed with shelter providers to ensure that the facilities operate within health ministry guidelines for isolation and outbreaks in congregate living settings, the city said.

It said SSHA is working with Toronto Public Health to determine if a monkeypox vaccination program can be developed for the shelter system.

367 monkeypox cases now in Ontario

Public Health Ontario reported on Friday that there are 367 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Ontario, as well as 12 probable cases. Of the confirmed cases, close to 78 per cent were reported in Toronto.

Nearly all of the people confirmed to be infected with monkeypox are men. Only two cases were reported in women. The average age of those infected so far is slightly under 36 years old.

Eleven people with monkeypox have been hospitalized and two of these people required intensive care. No deaths have been reported.

TPH says on its monkeypox page: "Monkeypox is a rare viral illness that causes fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes and tiredness, followed by a rash over a person's body. It is usually spread by very close contact with someone who has the virus."

Any person can get monkeypox, according to TPH, but gay and bisexual men who have sex with men "have been impacted the most."

It says the virus is mostly spread between people who had close intimate or sexual contact with a person who has the virus. It doesn't spread through casual contact.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting