Yesterday (Sept. 12), the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed that a resident died from monkeypox. That makes this person the first in the United States to die from the fast-spreading disease.
The department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a short statement noting that the person had a severely weakened immune system. “Persons severely immunocompromised who suspect they have monkeypox are encouraged to seek medical care and treatment early and remain under the care of a provider during their illness,” the statement said.
According to CNN, a person with monkeypox died in Harris County, Texas last month, but it has not been confirmed if the disease was a factor in that death. While nearly 22,000 cases have been reported in the United States, experts say death from the virus is extremely rare. Those who have died as a result of monkeypox have typically been “at-risk” individuals such as infants, pregnant women and those who have weakened immune systems, like HIV patients.
Last week, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gave an update on monkeypox. “While reported cases from the Americas also declined last week, it’s harder to draw firm conclusions about the epidemic in that region,” he said.
He continued, “Some countries in the Americas continue to report increasing number of cases and in some, there is likely to be underreporting due to stigma and discrimination or a lack of information for those who need it most. A downward trend can be the most dangerous time if it opens the door to complacency.”
Monkeypox is spread through skin-to-skin contact, respiratory droplets or by touching surfaces that an infected person has been exposed to. The virus shows up as painful lesions that cover the body. Sources say California currently has the most cases.