State notifies Ruth County Public Health of county’s first case of monkeypox

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has confirmed a positive case of monkeypox in Routt County, although local and state officials say the risk to the public remains low.

According to Ruth County Public Health, the state health department is investigating the positive case and completing contact tracing related to it.

In a press release dated Thursday, July 14, Routt County Public Health explained that the primary role of the local agency is to vaccinate all high-risk exposures confirmed by the state. In addition, Colorado 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 public health for Routt County, said in the press release. “It is endemic to Central and West Africa. It is currently the first significant outbreak in the United States and thus has generated national public interest.

Smith went on to say that the confirmed case in Root County should not be cause for alarm.

“Overall, monkeypox poses a low risk to 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 they need it,” she said.

According to Smith, CDPHE is the best source for information and there is a link on the county website at

Depending on the condition, monkeypox often begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and exhaustion. Anyone with symptoms is urged to self-isolate and contact their doctor

Other signs to look out for are a rash that develops within one to three days of the onset of the fever, often starting on the face and spreading to other parts of the body. In the latter cases, the rash often begins in the genital or perianal area.

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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 infected with monkeypox, wearing a high-quality mask if they will be spending time in close contact with someone experiencing symptoms, and contacting a provider to health services as soon as possible if they themselves experience any symptoms.

Monkeypox is spread primarily through close contact and usually requires skin-to-skin contact with lesions, rashes or skin bumps on a sick person, according to the state health department.

CDPHE says transmission via respiratory droplets is possible, but experts believe it takes hours of close contact, unlike COVID-19, which can be transmitted in minutes.

Close contacts can include family members, people who care for sick patients, anyone who has shared bedding 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 development of the virus and learn more about transmission.

Additionally, there is a vaccine that is fully FDA approved and is available in two doses, with doses given every four weeks.

The vaccine can help people not get sick at all if they get it within four days of being exposed to the monkeypox virus. If they get the vaccine between four and 14 days after exposure, it may help prevent severe illness, but it may not completely prevent infection.

Eligible high-risk Coloradans must request an appointment onlinewhich will include a symptom screening process where Coloradans can self-certify eligibility and receive a follow-up confirmation email to schedule a vaccine appointment.

Those who cannot get 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, go to [email protected] or call 970-870-5341.

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