Pueblo, CO, August 2, 2022 –The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has confirmed a positive monkeypox case in Pueblo County. CDPHE started and is completing the case investigation and contact tracing associated with this case.

Human monkeypox virus (hMPXV) is an Orthopoxvirusgenus that also includes smallpox and cowpox viruses. The virus has been spreading in the U.S. and globally. To date, there have been 5,189 cases identified in the U.S., in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Worldwide, there have been over 22,400 cases during the current outbreak. There have been no reported deaths due to the virus. 

“The presence of this virus in Pueblo County is unwelcome news, but not a surprise, and I am hopeful this person recovers quickly,” said Randy Evetts, public health director at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment. “We have been closely following the global spread of hMPXV and continue to maintain close communication with experts from CDPHE.”  

“We urge anyone with symptoms to isolate and contact their healthcare provider. We will continue to work with CDPHE as they complete their investigation and contact tracing,” explained Mr. Evetts.

Mr. Evetts added “Monkeypox has recently spread internationally. It is endemic in Central and West Africa. Presently, this is the first significant outbreak in the United States and s has generated national public interest. The fact that we have a confirmed case in Pueblo County is not alarming; in general, monkeypox poses a low risk for the population. However, as the public health department it is our duty 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. PDPHE is your best source of information, we have a link on our website pueblohealth.org/monkeypox.

Below is information from CDPHE regarding monkeypox.

  • The risk to the public continues to be low.
  • Monkeypox is rarely fatal. The version of monkeypox spreading right now in non-endemic countries has a fatality rate of less than 1%.
  • There is an effective vaccine for monkeypox that can be administered soon after exposure to prevent or lessen the severity of the illness. Vaccine supplies are currently limited; however, the state of Colorado will receive more vaccines from the Federal government in the coming months and preventive vaccines will become more widely available. 
  • Anyone can get monkeypox. The virus does not discriminate against any group.
  • Monkeypox is spread through close contact, which can include sexual contact.
  • Brief interactions without physical contact are unlikely to result in transmission.

Monkeypox is primarily spread through close contact with a person who has acquired monkeypox. Transmission typically requires skin-to-skin contact with a sick person’s lesions, rash, or skin bumps. Transmission through respiratory droplets is possible, but requires a prolonged interaction, as opposed to COVID-19, which can potentially 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. Epidemiological data on recent cases suggests there may be a heightened risk for people who have recently traveled to a country where monkeypox has been reported or men who have sex with other men. State epidemiologists are coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control to monitor the progression of the virus and learn more about transmission.

Evetts reiterated, “Anyone can get monkeypox-men, women and children.  While some communities are at higher risk currently, we should not stigmatize this disease and must work to assure that anyone who is exposed is comfortable seeking care.”

Clinicians are urged to become familiar with signs and symptoms of hMPXV, and should immediately contact the PDPHE if they suspect the virus in a patient. The Health Department will continue to outreach to local physicians and practice groups to support them with the latest data and best practice information.  

Monkeypox often begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and exhaustion. Typically, a rash develops within one to
four days after the onset of fever, often beginning on the face and spreading to other parts of the body. In some cases, the rash often starts in the genital or perianal area. The associated monkeypox rash can look similar to other infections like syphilis or herpes. The incubation period for monkeypox is usually seven to 14 days but can range from 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 individuals who have acquired monkeypox, wearing a high-quality mask if they will be spending time in close contact with someone experiencing symptoms of monkeypox, and contacting a health care provider as soon as possible if they experience symptoms.

The JYNNEOS vaccine is a fully FDA-approved two-dose vaccine, with doses given at least four weeks apart. The vaccine can lessen the chances of getting sick 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 a vaccination through CDPHE and think or know they have been exposed to monkeypox should contact a health care provider as soon as possible. 

For more information, visit pueblohealth.org/monkeypox.