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A colourized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox particles (yellow) found within an infected cell (blue), is shown in a handout photo from the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland.HO/The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia health officials on Tuesday reported the first case of monkeypox involving a resident of the province, less than a week after health advocates called for the government to “get ahead” of the virus.

A Nova Scotian contracted monkeypox while travelling outside the province and their symptoms appeared upon return, the Health Department said in a statement.

On Aug. 18, health organizations including the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia, Community-Based Research Centre and Sexual Health Nova Scotia urged the government to take action on addressing monkeypox. The letter was also signed by a representative from the Wabanaki Two-Spirit Alliance, a Dalhousie University professor and a human rights lawyer.

The group recommended that Nova Scotia increase access to vaccines, offer financial assistance to ensure people with monkeypox can isolate, and offer more information online about the virus.

“The window of opportunity to get ahead of this new public health challenge is now, before community transmission becomes established in the province,” reads the letter sent to chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang and Health Minister Michelle Thompson last week.

The letter notes that the recent outbreak of monkeypox in Canada is a growing public health threat that poses challenges for many marginalized communities.

“Currently, monkeypox is overwhelmingly affecting communities of Two-Spirit, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer men who have sex with men and nonbinary people,” the letter says.

The government said it’s working with the federal government to receive more supply of the Imvamune vaccine, which helps protect against the virus. The province said Public Health is following the case closely and has identified one low-risk contact.

There are 160 doses of monkeypox vaccine in the province, and they will be saved for close contacts of confirmed cases and those at high risk of infection, the province said.

In late July, the province reported that two cases of monkeypox were identified locally – involving people who are not from Nova Scotia.

“Monkeypox cases have been reported in other Canadian jurisdictions, but the risk of exposure remains low,” Strang said in a statement.

The Health Department said it is working with Sexual Health Nova Scotia and the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia to establish a pre-exposure vaccination program targeted to high-risk groups.

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