Los Angeles County health officials announced Monday that a resident has died of monkey pox, believed to be the first recorded fatality in the US linked to the virus.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released the cause of death, and a spokesman said it was confirmed by an autopsy. The patient was severely immunocompromised and hospitalized. The county has not disclosed any other information for privacy reasons.
18 people outside the country have died from the disease in 2022, the CDC reports, but the world’s largest monkeypox outbreak belongs to the United States; it has recorded nearly 22,000 cases of monkey pox so far this year.
The virus, rarely seen outside Africa before spring, has now caused a global emergency of 58,000 and has reached 103 countries, 96 of which had not seen the disease in the past.
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Health officials are also investigating whether monkey pox contributed to the death of an immunocompromised Texas adult in August. That patient was also severely immunocompromised, the Texas Department of State Health Services said.
The World Health Organization declared monkey pox a “public health emergency of international concern” in July, joining COVID-19 and polio in that designation.
Monkeypox generally starts with flu-like symptoms – fever, swollen glands, muscle aches and headaches. A rash usually develops a few days later, but in this outbreak, sometimes it comes first, said Dr. Marshall Glesby, an infectious disease specialist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian.
Close or intimate contact can transmit monkeypox, and the outbreak has mainly affected men who have sex with other men – as of mid-August, 98% of cases are among men and 93% of cases among men who have reported recent sexual contact with men. But the virus can affect anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
A vaccine against monkeypox is available, and Bob Fenton, the White House’s monkeypox response coordinator, said earlier this month that the country has “ample supplies to vaccinate those at highest risk” against the virus.
Contributors: Karen Weintraub and Cady Stanton USA TODAY; The The Bharat Express News