OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada is warning travellers to be extra careful abroad because of the potential threat of catching monkeypox.
The virus, typically only found in West and Central Africa, has cropped up around the globe with cases in Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and more than two dozen other countries.
To see so many cases unrelated to travel from those African regions is very unusual.
The government issued a level two travel health notice to encourage people travelling outside the country to take extra precautions.
“In the current outbreak, those at risk of infection are those who have had close or intimate contact with a person who has monkeypox,” the advisory reads.
The agency warned travellers could find themselves subjected to isolation or other measures to limit the spread of the virus.
People who leave the country could have limited access to appropriate care if they become ill and could face delays returning home.
Monkeypox spreads mainly through close contact with the virus on other humans or objects such as bed linens. While it can be fatal, it is most often not, causing symptoms such as fever, headache and muscle aches, and pox-like lesions on the skin.
Canada has confirmed at least 97 cases of people infected with the virus in Canada, with 90 in Quebec, five in Ontario, one in Alberta and one in British Columbia.
The government’s travel notice applies to several countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany.
It recommends Canadians delay travel and isolate if they have any symptoms of monkeypox, or have been diagnosed with monkeypox, to prevent spreading the virus.
The notice also recommends Canadian avoid close physical contact, including sexual contact, with people who appear to be sick while travelling and be particularly vigilant when attending a large party of mass gathering.
“If you develop symptoms that could be due to monkeypox when you are travelling or after your return, see a health care professional and avoid contact with others,” the government advised on its website.
Those who develop symptoms while in flight are instructed to tell a flight attendant or border services agent who will notify a quarantine officer.