Suspected case of monkeypox detected in N.B., says health minister

·2 min read
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard did not elaborate after telling the legislature Wednesday morning that New Brunswick had a suspected case of monkeypox. (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard did not elaborate after telling the legislature Wednesday morning that New Brunswick had a suspected case of monkeypox. (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)

New Brunswick has detected its first suspected case of monkeypox, according to the provincial health minister.

Dorothy Shephard made passing mention of the suspected case of the disease when she answered a question in the legislature Wednesday from Opposition Leader Roger Melanson.

"Public Health has had a couple of years working with COVID," Shephard said when Melanson asked about a Statistics Canada report on excess deaths observed in the province last year.

"We now have a suspected case of monkeypox in our province."

Shephard did not provide any more information about the suspected monkeypox case during question period.

I'm not overly concerned about it at the moment. - Health Minister Dorothy Shephard

Speaking to reporters later, Shephard declined to share more details, adding that Public Health will do so if the case is confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

"I'm going to let public health take the lead on this … and they, they have their protocols, and so until we get a confirmation, we don't feel that there's any more information that needs to be released at this time," she said.

"Do I think it's the same, you know, the same as COVID? No. So I like to deal in facts. I'm not, I'm not overly concerned about it at the moment."

In a statement released Wednesday evening, the Health Department said the possible case is related to travel.

"Public Health has ensured that close contacts of the individual were notified and said it does not have reason to believe they transmitted the infection," said the department.

The department said there were no confirmed cases yet and the public is not at risk.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that comes from the same family of viruses that causes smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared eradicated around the globe in 1980.

The disease generally does not spread easily between people and is transmitted through prolonged close contact.

According to the World Health Organization, monkeypox primarily occurs in central and west Africa, but an outbreak of monkeypox is currently happening in "many countries that do not typically have cases."

As of last Friday, Health Canada had detected 26 confirmed cases of the disease, with 25 in Quebec and one in Ontario.

"[Public Health Agency of Canada] is collecting and analyzing epidemiological information from reported cases to help define the national scope and to determine if there are any increased health risks to people in Canada," Health Canada says on its website.

The agency says it is working with provinces, territories and international partners, including the WHO, to actively monitor the situation.

Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory is performing diagnostic testing for the virus that causes monkeypox to better understand the chains of transmission occurring in Canada, the agency says.

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