Boulder County on Tuesday announced its first cases of monkeypox after four residents tested positive with the virus.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 80 cases in Colorado as of Monday.
“It’s important that everyone be aware of this disease, so that those at risk can seek medical care and get tested promptly if they believe they have been exposed or have symptoms,” Dr. Lexi Nolen, acting executive director at Boulder County Public Health, stated in a news release.
Officials with BCPH declined to disclose the age or gender of the residents who tested positive. Melany Niemann, spokesperson for BCPH, said the county may release identifying information at a later time if case numbers increase.
Anyone can get monkeypox, but it is a rare virus that does not easily spread between people with casual contact, the release said. Transmission can occur through contact with infectious sores and body fluids, contaminated items such as clothing or bedding, or through respiratory droplets associated with prolonged face-to-face contact.
For some people, monkeypox can feel like the flu at first. Early symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and exhaustion. Most people get a rash or skin bumps one to three days after they start feeling sick. Some people don’t feel any symptoms before they get a rash, the release said.
In many cases, monkeypox will resolve on its own without specific treatment after two to four weeks. Antiviral medications may be recommended for some people who develop more severe illness or who have weakened immune systems.
BCPH is monitoring the situation and working with state and local partners to implement a response plan, the release said. It is also working with community partners including Beacon Center for Infectious Diseases, Boulder County AIDS Project, Out Boulder County, El Centro Amistad and the Center for People with Disabilities to ensure testing and access to vaccines.
CDPHE is leading the state’s vaccination strategy, the release said. Due to the extremely limited federal supply of the Jynneos vaccine, CDPHE is currently prioritizing access to anyone who believes they have been in close contact with someone who had monkeypox within the past 14 days; men aged 18 years and older who are gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men who have had multiple or anonymous sex partners within the past 14 days.
The county is co-hosting a virtual information session on Zoom with Boulder County Aids Project, Out Boulder County and the Center for People with Disabilities at 6 p.m. Wednesday to share information on the monkeypox virus and its transmission and treatment. People can register to attend at boco.org/9ejlpE.
BCPH recommends people take the following steps to prevent the spread of monkeypox:
• Practice good hand hygiene by washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Minimize skin-to-skin contact with individuals who have been exposed to the virus or to those showing a rash or skin sores.
• Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, that have been in direct contact with someone with monkeypox.
• Reach out to a health care provider as soon as symptoms develop, as early recognition and testing can help prevent further transmission.
• Anyone with symptoms of monkeypox should contact a health care provider as soon as possible. Avoid close contact with others. Wear a mask, cover any skin lesions or sores, and notify a provider before you arrive to seek care. Medical providers may prescribe antiviral treatment if indicated.
• Medical providers are encouraged to stay up to date on all information regarding testing, vaccinations, isolation and treatment which is disseminated through the Colorado Notification System.