EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has identified the first case of monkeypox in El Paso County.

CDPHE said in a press release that as the lead agency in charge of contact tracing, they are identifying those at highest risk of exposure, and El Paso County Health will vaccinate those individuals. Risk to the public remains low, said CDPHE.

Monkeypox may begin with flu-like symptoms that can include: fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and exhaustion. Typically, a rash or skin bumps develop within one to three days after the onset of fever, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body. Monkeypox can look like syphilis, herpes, blisters, or even acne.

Anyone can get monkeypox through close contact — which includes sexual contact — with someone who has the virus. Brief interactions without physical contact are unlikely to result in transmission. To learn more about who is at higher risk of monkeypox, visit CDPHE’s website.

In recent cases, additional symptoms have not always occurred before the rash or bumps if they have occurred at all. Coloradans should contact a health care provider and avoid physical contact with others if they think they have been exposed to monkeypox or are experiencing symptoms. 

The variant of monkeypox spreading in the United States has a fatality rate of less than one percent. There have been 36 cases in Colorado and most cases resolve on their own within four weeks. Vaccinations given within four days of exposure can help prevent illness, and vaccines administered between four and 14 days after exposure can help prevent severe illness. 

Anyone who believes they have been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox in the last 14 days is eligible for the vaccine. Limited vaccine appointments are available to Coloradans who self-attest to their eligibility through the appointment request form.

People who experience symptoms of monkeypox or think they have been exposed to monkeypox should contact a health care provider to discuss testing. Providers can now submit specimens through commercial laboratory networks.