June 23, 2022

5 cases of monkeypox in Colorado, what we know about the virus

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is cautioning Coloradoans about the current status of Monkeypox
in the state.

By Sarah Flower

with Liane Jollon, executive director, San Juan Basin Public Health


Sarah Flower:

Cases of the monkeypox virus had been reported internationally in the last month, and five of those cases are in Colorado. As of today 142 cases in 23 states and Washington DC have been confirmed throughout the country. State epidemiologist, (Dr.) Rachel Herlihy says that while monkeypox is concerning, it is nowhere near as transmissible or as fatal, as COVID-19.

Liane Jollon:

Brief interactions without physical contact are unlikely to result in transmission. And all of us have learned a lot about a very different virus in the last two and a half years. And that's the SARS COV-2 virus the virus that causes COVID-19. And so I think it's helpful to point out that these are two very different viruses. So the monkeypox virus is very distinct from the COVID-19 virus and that it's really not spread at nearly as easily as COVID-19 is spread from person to person really spread of the monkeypox virus depends on close contact.

Sarah Flower:

Close contact of monkeypox is defined by the Center for Disease Control as direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs or body fluids. Large respiratory secretions during prolonged face to face contact, or intimate physical contact such as kissing, cuddling or sex, touching items such as clothing or linens that have previously been touched by the infectious rash or bodily fluids. pregnant people can also spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta. The CDC also says that it's possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or using products from an infected animal. Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face inside the mouth, and can be found on other parts of the body like the hands feet, chest, genitals, or anus. Herlihy says that a limited number of vaccines have been ordered by the state from the federal government. So far, the state has given 24 doses for individuals that have been in close contact.

Liane Jollon:

The state health department has ordered Virginia's vaccine. And we're using that vaccine as what we call post exposure prophylaxis, meaning treatment of individuals after they have had an exposure to the virus. And the vaccination is really focused on individuals who have been exposed and those risks are classified into these immediate or higher risk levels of exposures. And so that's going to include healthcare workers and other people who have had direct contact with the person who's identified.

Sarah Flower:

The state is also doing contact tracing and testing. Health officials say there are two steps involved in the testing process. Firstly, the state lab is doing orthopod tests and then if positive they send over to the CDC for official confirmation. Individuals that have been identified as a close contact should monitor their symptoms for 21 days after exposure of the five cases that the state has identified. They're all individuals who have either traveled internationally or identify as men who have sex with men. So far there has been no known community transmission of the virus. Reporting for KSUT Tribal Radio. I'm Sarah Flower

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