BY FREDA MIKLIN
Although monkeypox has had little impact on our state so far, state health officials want to make sure people recognize the symptoms and report it if they get it. Monkeypox shows up as a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on almost any part of the body, including inside one’s mouth. Some people also get a fever. If one gets this virus, they should isolate at home, away from other people and pets, until all lesions heal and new skin forms. The illness often resolves without treatment, but there is vaccine in very limited supply that can be given after one is exposed to the virus. It will prevent it or make its symptoms milder.
On June 22, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State Epidemiologist, and Scott Bookman,Director, Division of Disease Control and Public Health Response, held a press conference to share information about monkeypox in Colorado. Brian Spencer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, moderated.
As of June 24, there were over 4,106 cases of monkeypox in 47 countries outside of central and western Africa, where they commonly occur. In the U.S., 201 cases were reported in 25 states and Washington, D.C. Within Colorado, there were two cases reported in May and four through June 24, none of which required hospitalization. There have been no deaths from the virus in Colorado.
The fatality rate from monkeypox in the U.S. and all other countries outside of central and western Africa is less than one percent. All six cases in Colorado were found in people who recently traveled internationally or had close contact with someone who had the virus.
Monkeypox is unlikely to be spread through, “brief interactions without physical contact, “said Herlihy, emphasizing that it is very different than the COVID-19 virus. Monkeypox is spread through close contact with monkeypox rash, sores, or scabs from a person who is infected with it. It can also be spread through sexual contact, especially between men.
The virus can be transmitted from the onset of symptoms until all lesions have completely healed. The risk of contracting the virus is increased by travel to a country where the virus has been reported. In Europe, the largest number of cases (910) is presently in the United Kingdom.
There is a very limited supply of the vaccine available presently and it is controlled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDPHE has up-to-date information on monkeypox on its website at cdphe.colorado.gov/monkeypox.