Alberta has now confirmed four cases of monkeypox. The province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, made the announcement during Thursday’s COVID-19 press conference.
“These adult individuals are self-isolating and I want to express my appreciation for their assistance in contact tracing and investigation,” she said.
Monkeypox is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact or by touching objects contaminated with the virus such as clothing or bedding.
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, swollen glands, sores, or a rash.
Hinshaw said anyone with symptoms of monkeypox should self-isolate and call 811.
“These are common symptoms and most people with these symptoms will have another cause. However, being aware of these symptoms is especially important for anyone who has had a new sexual partner,” Hinshaw said.
Hinshaw noted that the majority of monkeypox cases that have been recorded worldwide have been in the gay community. She says Alberta Health has reached out to organizations across the province that serve the LGBTQ2S+ community to provide them with information.
“It’s not meant to shame or stigmatize anyone, and it doesn’t mean that anyone who has contracted monkeypox or is a contact has done anything wrong,” she said.
Rob Browatzke is co-owner of Evolution Wonderlounge, a gay bar in downtown Edmonton. He says he was surprised to receive an email from Alberta Health about monkeypox earlier this week.
“I wrote back and asked if it was going to all night clubs or if it was just going to gay bars and I haven’t heard anything yet,” he told CTV News on Thursday.
“If monkeypox is transmissible through certain behaviors, then it should spread everywhere. We’re certainly not the only nightclub people are going to hook up with.
CTV News asked Hinshaw about Browatzke’s concerns during Thursday’s press conference.
“I’m so sorry that this particular fact sheet caused this, it was definitely not the intention,” she said. “We tried to get feedback from multiple organizations on wording and language, and did our best to balance the need for rapid dissemination of accurate information with consultation with multiple representative groups.”
Browatzke worries that linking monkeypox to the gay community will reinforce harmful stereotypes.
“If people are already predisposed to think of gay sex or homosexuals as dirty or carrying diseases, that will only reinforce that kind of harmful ignorance,” he said. “And for this to happen during Pride month is just astounding. I’m like ‘Go government!’ “
“We continue to engage with organizations and welcome their feedback and if there are ways to talk about this in a way that provides accurate information about risk factors so people can take control of their own health without stigma. , we absolutely welcome such feedback. “, said Hinshaw.
She added that the risk of contracting monkeypox in Alberta remains low.