COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has confirmed a presumptive monkeypox case and is awaiting confirmation from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it announced on Thursday.

According to CDPHE, the individual who acquired the virus recently traveled to Canada where an outbreak of monkeypox is occurring. The department said that person is cooperating with state and local public health epidemiologists who are investigating and notifying others who may have been exposed.

The patient, a young man who sought care in the Denver area, is now isolating at home. CDPHE said his condition is improving.

“We want to reassure Coloradans that the risk to the public is low, but we also want them to know of the symptoms so that we can catch other cases as soon as possible,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The El Paso County Public Health Director Susan Wheelan said, “El Paso County Public Health has not been notified of any local cases of monkeypox… at this point in time. We will continue to monitor the situation locally and provide any relevant updates. “

Individuals who have recently traveled to a country where monkeypox has been reported are currently at a higher risk for exposure, according to CDPHE.

Monkeypox often begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and exhaustion. Typically a rash develops within one to three days after the onset of fever, says CDPHE. The rash often begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body. CDPHE warns that in recent cases, the rash has started in the genital or perianal area. A rash caused by monkeypox can look similar to other infections such as syphilis or herpes.

The virus can spread through direct contact with body fluids or broken lesions, and through contaminated clothing or linens. There are two known types of monkeypox. 

The incubation period for monkeypox is usually seven to 14 days, but can range from less than five to 21 days, stated CDPHE. Most people recover within two to four weeks.

Coloradans can help prevent the spread of monkeypox by avoiding close physical contact with individuals who have acquired monkeypox, wearing a mask when in contact with someone experiencing symptoms, and contacting a health care provider as soon as possible if they experience symptoms.

There are currently no other presumptive positive monkeypox cases in Colorado. The state is requesting two types of available vaccines from the federal government.

Monkeypox outbreaks are currently occurring in Canada, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, and other European countries. The virus is rare in the United States, but has infected individuals who have traveled internationally or people who have had contact with animals from areas where the disease is more common.

In 2021, there were two cases in the United States associated with international travel. Another outbreak across six states involved 47 cases that was linked to contact with infected animals from Ghana in 2003. Neither of these outbreaks had cases in Colorado.

CDPHE says that in parts of the world where human cases of monkeypox more commonly occur, people are typically exposed through bites or scratches from infected rodents and small mammals, preparing wild game, or having contact with an infected animal or possible animal products. Monkeypox does not happen regularly in animals that live in the United States.