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Monkeypox, severe hepatitis raise concerns of virus outbreaks post-COVID – Global News

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As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, experts warn that emerging viruses are inevitable in the years to come and better surveillance is needed to stay ahead of potential new pathogens.

The recent appearance of monkeypox has left researchers scrambling to find out how the rare infectious virus is spreading in countries, including Canada, that don’t typically see it.

Meanwhile, cases of severe acute hepatitis in children have also raised concerns in several countries.

Read more:

Outbreaks of diseases like monkeypox becoming more frequent, WHO warns

“Emerging infectious disease can always hit us,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.

“And we should be as prepared as we can, which means reinforcing the global public health capacity,” she said during a news conference on Friday.

Climate change and the increased human-to-wildlife interaction are contributing factors when it comes to the emergence of viruses, which are “largely human-made,” experts say.

This is why outbreaks of endemic diseases are becoming more persistent and frequent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).


Click to play video: '58 cases of monkeypox confirmed in Canada, Tam says'



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58 cases of monkeypox confirmed in Canada, Tam says


58 cases of monkeypox confirmed in Canada, Tam says

Animals and humans are changing their behavior, including food-seeking habits to adjust to rapidly changing weather conditions linked to climate change, said Mike Ryan, WHO’s emergencies director, during a news conference on Wednesday.

As a result, diseases that typically circulate in animals are increasingly jumping into humans, he said.

“Unfortunately, that ability to amplify that disease and move it on within our communities is increasing, so both disease emergence and disease amplification factors have increased.”

Read more:

Climate change may heighten risk of new infectious disease spread across species: study

The warmer air and water make it easier for viruses and bacteria to thrive and multiply, explained Dr. Horacio Bach, an infectious diseases expert at the University of British Columbia.

It’s a “tumultuous situation” that has been brought to the forefront by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist and medical microbiologist at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

“We are in a fragile balance with our environment,” Vinh told Global News. “And unfortunately, if we don’t respect our environment, the environment is going to introduce to us bugs that we’re not prepared for.”


Click to play video: 'Mysterious hepatitis cases in children reported in Canada'



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Mysterious hepatitis cases in children reported in Canada


Mysterious hepatitis cases in children reported in Canada – May 11, 2022

Is there any link to COVID?

A global population exhausted following two years of COVID-19 has had to face news of the arrival of monkeypox, though experts do not believe the latest outbreak will turn into another pandemic.

While both are infectious diseases, Bach said the spread of monkeypox is not linked to the global transmission of COVID-19.

Read more:

Monkeypox outbreak: Canada now has 77 confirmed cases

“It’s a completely different virus, so it’s not in the (same) family (as COVID),” he said.

Experts are calling monkeypox, which is endemic in at least 10 African countries, a “neglected disease,” as not enough research has been done or drugs developed to treat it.


Click to play video: 'COVID-19 indicators are down in most parts of the country'



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COVID-19 indicators are down in most parts of the country


COVID-19 indicators are down in most parts of the country

While investigations are ongoing, “the sudden and unexpected appearance of monkeypox simultaneously in several non-endemic countries suggests that there may have been undetected transmission for some unknown duration of time followed by recent amplifier events,” the WHO said in an update on Saturday.

As for severe acute hepatitis in kids, some studies have pointed to a possible link with COVID-19 infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the infection with adenovirus, a common childhood virus, is the leading hypothesis for the recent cases.

Both SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and adenovirus have been detected in a number of the cases.

However, the exact role of these viruses in causing severe hepatitis is not yet clear, according to the WHO.


Click to play video: 'Stigma over monkeypox poses challenges in tracking Canadian cases'



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Stigma over monkeypox poses challenges in tracking Canadian cases


Stigma over monkeypox poses challenges in tracking Canadian cases – May 26, 2022

Meanwhile, COVID-19 restrictions and strict lockdowns have resulted in a change in the cycles of infection for other viruses such as influenza A and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), said Dr. Anna Banerji, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at the University of Toronto.

This is because newborn babies and infants have not been exposed to routine childhood illnesses, such as common-cold viruses, either through the mother in the womb or their older siblings.

“A lot of the viruses have shifted their seasons, but also some of the viruses are more severe because the babies haven’t been exposed to them through their maternal antibodies,” Banerji told Global News.

Global response and surveillance

To better respond to future outbreaks, experts say better surveillance, global collaboration and health capacity building is needed.

“Capacitating every country to a reasonable level is really important,” said Tam, adding that there are “definitely gaps.”

Read more:

48 cases of norovirus, gastrointestinal illness linked to spot prawns across Canada: PHAC

Vinh agreed, saying the global response should be equitable and come early before the outbreak becomes large, spreading to different parts of the world.

“We need to be actively doing research and looking for potential new pathogens that are coming so that when they do appear and become a problem, we will already have solutions in hand,” he said.

“It’s not when the infection is spreading in your community that you start studying the bug, it’s well before that.”


Click to play video: 'Monkeypox mortality rate unclear due to lack of surveillance in some countries: WHO'



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Monkeypox mortality rate unclear due to lack of surveillance in some countries: WHO


Monkeypox mortality rate unclear due to lack of surveillance in some countries: WHO

— With files from Reuters, The Canadian Press and The Associated Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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DeMille Anticipates Broader Rollout Of 4th Dose Vaccination – Country 105

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The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) is getting ready for the annual flu shot campaign, as well as a broader ask for arms to get the fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The province expanded the second booster dose eligibility on April 7th to those who are 60 and over as well as First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over.

“At this time, I’m not hearing any indication of the province opening up (eligibility) to the broader population, and I’m not sure really we would have evidence that would be needed at this time,” DeMille told Acadia News Monday. “We are much lower in terms of the amount of COVID-19 (cases) in the province of Ontario. With the summertime, we see overall less spread (of the virus).”

DeMille did mention that the District anticipates the call will get broader in the fall.

As of June 21st, 133,334 people within the TBDHU have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 80,719 have received three doses.

Officials have given fourth doses to 18,687 individuals as of the last update.

DeMille was also asked about a return to school in September, and what that might look like after Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told Federal MPs on June 8th that there is a real threat of the seventh wave of COVID-19.

The Medical Officer says it’s hard to look into the crystal ball and pinpoint what will happen based on the fact that right now a majority of the new infections are the Omicron variant.

“The schools overall did fairly well,” DeMille stated. “We know that a lot of people did get infected, which can cause a lot of disruption because people still need to isolate so that they are not spreading (the virus) to others. Likely a lot of spread happened in the schools when we re-opened in January and through the last few waves.”

DeMille noted that the schools took a lot of measures that helped in previous waves, including improving ventilation.

“I anticipate that (masking) will always be optional, but when the Omicron variant is spreading, it’s always helpful when people are masking in indoor spaces when they are interacting with others,” said DeMille. “(Down the road) we might recommend that people wear masks in schools, but that advice will really depend on what we see circulating, how much it is circulating and what the impact is on schools.”

DeMille mentioned whether it is the school, the workplace, or any other indoor space, the goal is to return to as normal as possible in an eventual post-pandemic world.

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Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, says WHO – Global News

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Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) ruled on Saturday, although WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was deeply concerned about the outbreak.

“I am deeply concerned about the monkeypox outbreak, this is clearly an evolving health threat that my colleagues and I in the WHO Secretariat are following extremely closely,” Tedros said.

The “global emergency” label currently only applies to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio, and the U.N. agency has stepped back from applying it to the monkeypox outbreak after advice from a meeting of international experts.

Read more:

Canada signs $32.9M contract for smallpox drug with manufacturer Chimerix

There have been more than 3,200 confirmed cases of monkeypox and one death reported in the last six weeks from 48 countries where it does not usually spread, according to WHO.

So far this year almost 1,500 cases and 70 deaths in central Africa, where the disease is more common, have also been reported, chiefly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Monkeypox, a viral illness causing flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, has been spreading largely in men who have sex with men outside the countries where it is endemic.

It has two clades – the West African strain, which is believed to have a fatality rate of around 1% and which is the strain spreading in Europe and elsewhere, and the Congo Basin strain, which has a fatality rate closer to 10%, according to WHO.


Click to play video: 'More than half of Canadians confident in monkeypox response, but 55% worried about spread: poll'



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More than half of Canadians confident in monkeypox response, but 55% worried about spread: poll


More than half of Canadians confident in monkeypox response, but 55% worried about spread: poll – Jun 17, 2022

There are vaccines and treatments available for monkeypox, although they are in limited supply.

The WHO decision is likely to be met with some criticism from global health experts, who said ahead of the meeting that the outbreak met the criteria to be called an emergency.

However, others pointed out that the WHO is in a difficult position after COVID-19. Its January 2020 declaration that the new coronavirus represented a public health emergency was largely ignored by many governments until around six weeks later, when the agency used the word “pandemic” and countries took action.

(Reporting by Jennifer Rigby; additional reporting by Mrinmay Dey; Editing by Sandra Maler)

© 2022 Reuters

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Kingston, Ont., area health officials examining future of local vaccination efforts – Global News

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More than 455,000 people in the Kingston region have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Now health officials say they’re using the summer months, with low infection rates, to look ahead to what fall might bring, urging those who are still eligible to get vaccinated do so.

Read more:

Kingston Health Sciences Centre to decommission COVID-19 field site

“Large, mass immunization clinics, mobile clinics, drive-thru clinics and small primary care clinics doing their own vaccine,” said Brian Larkin with KFL&A Public Health.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Gerald Evans says those who are still eligible for a third and fourth dose should take advantage and roll up their sleeves during the low-infection summer months.

“Now in 2022, although you still might get COVID, you’re probably not going to be very sick. You are less likely to transmit and ultimately that’s one of the ways we’re going to control the pandemic,” added Evans.

He expects another wave of COVID-19 to hit in late October to early November and that a booster may be made available for those younger than 60 who still aren’t eligible for a fourth dose.

Read more:

Kingston, Ont. COVID assessment centre cuts hours for the summer

“The best case scenario is a few more years of watching rises in cases, getting boosters to control things and ultimately getting out of it with this being just another coronavirus that just tends to cause a respiratory infection and worst-case scenario is a new variant where all the potential possibilities exist to have a big surge in cases and hopefully not a lot more serious illness,” said Evans.

Public Health says they’re still waiting for direction from the province on what’s to come this fall.

“We’re expecting that we would see more age groups and younger age groups be eligible for more doses or boosters but about when those ages start, we have yet to have that confirmed,” said Larkin.

The last 18 months of vaccines paving the way for the new normal could mean a yearly COVID booster alongside the annual flu shot.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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