The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has confirmed a positive monkeypox case in Routt County, though local and state officials say the risk to the public remains low.
According to Routt County Public Health, the state health department is investigating the positive case and completing the contact tracing associated with it.
In a Thursday, July 14, news release, Routt County Public Health explained that the local agency’s primary role is to vaccinate any high-risk exposures confirmed by the state. Additionally, Colorado has received some vaccines from the federal government.
“Monkeypox has recently been spreading in parts of the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia,” Roberta Smith, director of Routt County Public Health, said in the news release. “It is endemic in central and West Africa. Presently, this is the first significant outbreak in the United States and so it has generated national public interest.”
Smith continued by saying that the confirmed case in Routt County should not be a reason for alarm.
“In general, monkeypox poses a low risk for the population,” Smith said, adding that the health department’s job is to provide information to the public about any health concerns.
“We want to make sure our community knows where to find information and who to contact if there is the need,” she said.
According to Smith, CDPHE is the best source for information, and there’s a link on the county’s website to CDPHE.Colorado.gov/Monkeypox.
According to the state, Monkeypox often begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and exhaustion. Anyone with symptoms is urged to isolate and contact their health care provider
Other signs to look out for are a rash that develops within one to three days after the onset of fever, often beginning on the face and spreading to other parts of the body. In recent cases, the rash often starts in the genital or perianal area.
The incubation period for monkeypox is usually seven to 14 days, but can range from less than five to 21 days. Most people recover within two to four weeks.
Coloradans can help prevent the spread of monkeypox by avoiding close physical contact with people who have acquired monkeypox, by wearing a high-quality mask if they will be spending time in close contact with someone experiencing symptoms, and by contacting a health care provider as soon as possible if they experience any symptoms themselves.
Monkeypox is primarily spread through close contact and typically requires skin-to-skin contact with a sick person’s lesions, rash or skin bumps, according to the state health department.
CDPHE says transmission through respiratory droplets is possible, but experts believe it takes hours of close contact, as opposed to COVID-19, which can be transmitted in minutes.
Close contacts may include family members, people taking care of ill patients, anyone who has shared bed linens with someone who is sick, or anyone who has had prolonged exposure to a person with monkeypox.
State epidemiologists are coordinating across the state and with the Centers for Disease Control to monitor the progression of the virus and learn more about transmission.
Additionally, there is a vaccine that is fully FDA-approved and comes in two doses, with the doses given four weeks apart.
The vaccine can help keep people from getting sick at all if they receive it within four days of exposure to the monkeypox virus. If they get the vaccine between four and 14 days after exposure, it can help prevent severe illness but may not completely prevent infection.
Eligible, high-risk Coloradans must request an appointment online, which will include a symptom screening process where Coloradans can self-attest to their eligibility, and receive a follow-up confirmation email to schedule a vaccine appointment.
Those who are unable to receive vaccination through CDPHE and think or know they have been exposed to monkeypox should contact a health care provider as soon as possible.