Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [external link], Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment [external link] and local public health officials are currently monitoring cases of monkeypox in Colorado.
Monkeypox is a virus in the orthopox family of viruses. Monkeypox is rare, and most people have a mild illness and recover on their own. However, there are severe cases of monkeypox where treatment may be needed. The type of monkeypox spreading in the United States is rarely deadly and has a fatality rate of less than one percent.
Monkeypox can spread from person to person when someone who has monkeypox has close contact with someone else. Close contact can mean coming into physical contact with a sick person’s sores, bumps or lesions, including through sex. Monkeypox may also be spread through touching the bed linens or clothing of someone who is sick.
Recent cases in the United States have been infected through person-to-person contact. Brief interactions without physical contact are unlikely to result in getting the virus. Recent data suggest people who have recently traveled to a country where monkeypox has been reported, or men who have sex with other men, are at heightened risk.
Symptoms of monkeypox may begin with flu-like symptoms that may 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, so be sure to get checked out if you develop a new rash or bumps. A person is considered contagious until all bumps or lesions are healed, meaning the scabs fall off and there is a new layer of healthy skin. Isolation [external link] is required until this happens. Most people recover within two to four weeks.
What to do if You Think You Have Monkeypox
People who have symptoms of monkeypox or think they have been exposed to monkeypox should contact a health care provider to discuss testing and/or vaccination. If you do not have a health care provider, or do not have insurance, JCPH has testing available for people who have a rash they think may be monkeypox. Reach out to the JCPH Clinic Team to ask about available appointments.
If you have a rash or sores, cover them with long sleeves, pants or a bandage. Wear a well-fitting mask over your nose and mouth during your appointment.
Cleaning and Disinfection
During isolation at home, people with monkeypox should clean and disinfect the spaces they occupy regularly to limit household contamination.
- Isolating alone in home: People with monkeypox who are isolating alone at home should regularly clean and disinfect the spaces they occupy, including commonly touched surfaces and items, to limit household contamination. Perform hand hygiene afterwards using an alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) that contains at least 60% alcohol, or soap and water if ABHR is unavailable.
- Isolating with other in home: People with monkeypox who are isolating in a home with others who don’t have monkeypox should follow the isolation and infection control guidance [external link], and any shared spaces, appliances or items should be disinfected immediately following use.
People who have recovered from monkeypox and whose isolation period has ended [external link] should conduct a thorough disinfection of all the spaces within the home that they had been in contact with. Follow the steps below to minimize risk of infection to others in your home after recovery:
- If cleaning and disinfection is done by someone other than the person with monkeypox, that person should wear, at a minimum, disposable medical gloves and a respirator or well-fitting mask.
- Standard clothing that fully covers the skin should be worn, and then immediately laundered according to recommendations below.
- Hand hygiene should be performed using an ABHR, or soap and water if ABHR is unavailable.
- Focus on disinfecting items and surfaces that were in direct contact with the skin of the person with monkeypox, or often in the presence of the person with monkeypox, during isolation. If unsure, disinfect.
- Do not dry dust or sweep as this may spread infectious particles.
- Wet cleaning methods are preferred such as disinfectant wipes, sprays and mopping.
- Vacuuming is acceptable using a vacuum with a high-efficiency air filter. If not available, ensure the person vacuuming wears a well-fitting mask or respirator.
- Clean and disinfect household in the following order:
- General waste containment
- Collect and contain in a sealed bag any soiled waste such as bandages, paper towels, food packaging and other general trash items.
- Gather contaminated clothing and linens before anything else in the room is cleaned. Do not shake the linens as this could spread infectious particles.
- Hard surfaces and household items
- Upholstered furniture and other soft furnishing
- Carpet and flooring
- Waste disposal
For more information on cleaning and disinfection during isolation at home, visit The Center's for Disease Control and Prevention [external link].
Monkeypox Vaccine Information
When it comes to monkeypox vaccination, there are two terms you may hear: PEP and PEP++. PEP stands for “post-exposure prophylaxis”, which means that it is given after an individual may have been exposed to the monkeypox virus. PEP++ is also referred to as “expanded PEP”, people with certain risk factors are more likely to have been recently exposed to monkeypox without knowing.
Jefferson County Public Health is offering free vaccine for PEP or PEP++. Vaccine eligibility is for those who do not have symptoms of monkeypox infection and/or:
- Anyone (any sexual orientation or gender identity) who:
- has had close physical contact in the last 14 days to either someone who has been diagnosed or suspected to have a monkeypox infection, or
- has had multiple or anonymous sexual partners, or
- has had close physical contact with other people in a venue where anonymous or group sex may occur, or
- recently diagnosed with gonorrhea or syphilis in the past six months, or
- currently living with HIV, or
- currently uses or is eligible for HIV PrEP (medication to prevent HIV), or
- engages in commercial and/or transactional sex (e.g., sex in exchange for money, shelter, food and other goods or needs), or
- has been identified by public health as a known high-risk contact of someone who has monkeypox.
Some people who have been recently exposed to monkeypox should get a vaccine called Jynneos [external link]. The FDA has fully approved this vaccine.
Request a vaccine appointment using this form [external link]. Vaccine supply is limited, completing this form does not guarantee an appointment.
Reach out to the JCPH Clinic Team to ask about available appointments.
Getting vaccinated lowers your chance of getting monkeypox if you may have been exposed. The sooner an exposed person gets the vaccine, the better. The vaccine can also reduce the severity of your symptoms if you do get sick. People who already have symptoms of monkeypox (fever, rash, etc.) are not eligible to get vaccinated, but should be referred for testing.
For more information, including frequently asked questions [external link], a list of locations where you can get tested and additional vaccine information, visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website [external link]. You can also reach out directly to the JCPH clinic team for questions or more information about the monkeypox virus.
Monkeypox Resources for Health Care Providers
- CDC monkeypox Information for Clinicians [external link]
- CDC monkeypox frequently asked questions for clinicians [external link]
- CDPHE’s monkeypox infection control guidance for outpatient settings [external link]
- CDPHE’s monkeypox infection control guidance for emergency medical services [external link]
- CDPHE’s proper disposal of monkeypox virus waste [external link]
- CDPHE’s monkeypox laboratory safety [external link]
- CDPHE’s monkeypox specimen collection guidance [external link]
- CDPHE’s monkeypox fact sheet for health care providers [external link]