Larimer County’s first case of monkeypox has been confirmed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the county health department announced Tuesday.
The state health department identified the case and is the lead agency on investigating and contact tracing it, according to a news release from the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. After the case investigation, the county health department will work to vaccinate any high-risk exposures.
Because of the low number of cases in Colorado — the state health department said Colorado has reported just 36 cases so far — and a fatality rate of less than 1%, risk remains low to the public. Most people have been recovering within two to four weeks of being infected, according to the county health department news release.
Last week, the World Health Organization said the monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is an “extraordinary” situation and declared it a global emergency. Prior USA TODAY reporting found that more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 74 countries since about May. As of Friday, the US had reported almost 4,000 cases.
“Monkeypox is rare, but can cause serious illness for some people,” said Dr. Paul Mayer, Larimer County medical officer, in the release. “It’s important to contact a health care provider and avoid physical contact with others if you think you’ve been exposed to monkeypox or are experiencing symptoms.”
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What are monkeypox symptoms?
Monkeypox can start with flu-like symptoms — including a fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and exhaustion — and usually a rash or bumps on the skin will develop after the fever, according to the health department. But the rash can occur without any prior symptoms, and rash or bumps usually start on the face and spread across the body.
How does monkeypox spread?
The virus is spread through close contact with anyone who has it, but recent data indicates that those who traveled to a country with monkeypox are at high risk, along with men who are sexually active with other men.
The virus is also believed to be able to live on surfaces and can spread through touching the bedding or clothing of someone who has it, according to the state health department.
Is there a vaccine, and do you need it?
In Colorado, vaccines are available only to those who believe they have had close contact with someone who has had monkeypox in the last 14 days and men “18 years and older who are gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men who have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days,” according to the state.
If given within four days of exposure, vaccines can help prevent illness. If given between four and 14 days after exposure, they can prevent severe illness.
Despite the rising number of cases, experts have said that most people do not need to change travel habits or take extra precautions and that there is “is a very low risk of transmission through casual contact.”
Public health officials from the federal to local level are “closely monitoring progression of the virus to learn more,” according to the county health department, and more information about monkeypox is available at https://cdphe.colorado.gov/diseases-a -to-z/monkeypox.
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Molly Bohannon covers city government for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @molboha or contact her at email@example.com. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.