No local cases of monkeypox reported

Mercer: 'We’re not looking at a pandemic with monkeypox'

GUELPH – There have been no cases of monkeypox in this region, but Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) is keeping an eye on the situation.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer told the board of health on June 1 that monkeypox is a close cousin of smallpox, and there is both a vaccine and treatment available.

“This is not a coronavirus, not a COVID virus,” she said. “We know more about monkeypox than COVID-19.

“We’re not looking at a pandemic with monkeypox.”


Mercer said prior to 1972, children were routinely vaccinated against smallpox. With a global vaccination program, smallpox has been eradicated since 1979.

In an interesting sidenote,  Mercer said the smallpox vaccine was produced in Palmerston from 1885 to 1916 until a different kind of vaccine was created. But for a period in history, Palmerston was the smallpox vaccine centre for Ontario.

Mercer said monkeypox is the same genus as smallpox and symptoms are similar: fever and a pimply rash all over the body.

“It’s not nearly as deadly though,” Mercer said. “And because it’s in the same family as smallpox, the vaccine can be used for monkeypox too.”

Cases are transmitted through close contact, but it would take two or three hours of close contact for it to spread, Mercer said.

She noted WDGPH could get vaccines and medication for monkeypox should it arrive in the region.

“We’re all on alert,” she said.

According to the World Health Organization, more than two dozen countries that don’t normally see cases of monkeypox had reported 780 cases in May.

In countries where monkeypox is endemic, such as Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo and Nigeria, there have been 1,400 cases and 63 deaths.