Montreal public health now says there are 18 suspected cases in the metro area.
The Public Health Agency (PHAC) announced Thursday night that following positive lab tests, it had confirmed the first monkeypox cases in Canada, both in Quebec. Earlier in the day, Montreal's public health director, Dr. Mylène Drouin, said there were 17 suspected cases in the Montreal area: 15 in the city itself, and two each on the South and North Shores.
On Friday morning, Montreal public health upped the suspected case count on Montreal Island, alone, to 18.
The suspected cases are possibly linked to a Monkeypox-positive individual in Massachusetts who travelled to Quebec, according to Dr. Drouin's colleague, Dr. Geneviève Bergeron.
Monkeypox symptoms include fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and, eventually, a rash. Dr. Drouin said potentially infected individuals in the Montreal area were experiencing painful ulcerations.
The PHAC explained in a statement that while "person to person spread of monkeypox is uncommon," it can spread through close contact or contact with respiratory droplets, sores, and bodily fluids, including fluids left on bedding and clothing.
The Montreal public health director on Thursday, May 19, told the public not to panic. She said this is not a disease that residents could catch in the store or on public transit. She also stressed that the suspected cases in the metro area aren't severe.
Many of the individuals with suspected cases are men who have sex with men, Drouin said, adding that Monkeypox is not transmitted sexually. The individuals are between the ages of 35 and 55.
They are in isolation pending lab confirmation of infection.
Public health officials have alerted physicians to be on the lookout for monkeypox symptoms and to report any suspected cases.