First U.S. Monkeypox Death Confirmed in California

TUESDAY, Sept. 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Monkeypox was the cause of death in a Los Angeles County adult last week, public health officials confirmed Tuesday.

This is the first known death from monkeypox to be reported in the United States.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said the patient had been hospitalized and 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 department said in a news release.

California has had the most monkeypox cases in the country, with 4,300 out of 22,000 probable or confirmed cases nationwide, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Babies, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, such as from HIV, are more vulnerable to the virus, though deaths are extremely rare.

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., told CNN that the person's "impaired immune system could not control the virus once it entered his body, the virus multiplied in an uncontained fashion, and it likely spread to several organ systems, causing their malfunction.”

Cause of death for a monkeypox patient in Harris County, Texas, has not been confirmed as monkeypox.

Although there have been nearly 58,000 cases and 18 confirmed deaths globally, monkeypox cases appear to be slowing in some areas, CNN reported.

"We're continuing to see a downward trend in Europe," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week. "While reported cases from the Americas also declined last week, it's harder to draw firm conclusions about the epidemic in that region. 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," he added.

"A downward trend can be the most dangerous time if it opens the door to complacency," he warned.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the 2022 monkeypox outbreak.


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