Texas health officials reported Tuesday that an immunocompromised patient with monkeypox has died. This would be the first known death from the virus in the United States, if monkeypox is confirmed to have played a role.
The patient was a “severely immunocompromised” adult resident of Harris County, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced in a statement. Press release. Health officials said it is still under investigation what role monkeypox played in the death.
“Monkeypox is a serious disease, especially for people with weakened immune systems,” said DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt. “We continue to urge people to seek treatment if they have been exposed to monkeypox or have symptoms consistent with the disease.”
During a briefing on the monkeypox response at the White House on Tuesday, Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, monkeypox response incident manager for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said CDC is aware of the report and has contacted local officials.
“We understand that this patient also had underlying health conditions and a number of things going on, and I think further investigation is needed to know what role monkeypox may or may not have played in his death. So we will report it.” . as soon as we have more information,” McQuiston said.
He also stressed that monkeypox deaths remain rare worldwide. According to the CDC, there have been 15 confirmed deaths attributed to monkeypox worldwide, including six deaths in places that have not historically reported monkeypox. If the death reported in Texas is confirmed to be related to monkeypox, the global death toll would rise to 16.
“It’s serious, and our hearts certainly go out to this family who have lost a loved one, and while we do further research to find out what role monkeypox may have played, it’s important to focus [on the] mitigation measures implemented to prevent monkeypox,” added McQuiston. “Get vaccinated; if you are sick, go to a doctor; get tested; And if you have a serious illness, there are treatments available.”
More than 18,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported in the US, with 48,800 confirmed cases worldwide.
Monkeypox is spread primarily through close intimate contact, which includes kissing or hugging someone infected with the virus, or coming into contact with an infected person’s bedding or towels. Most of the people who have gotten sick so far have been men who have sex with men, but the virus can infect anyone.
Symptoms include a sometimes painful or itchy rash that resembles pimples or blisters, along with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, and respiratory symptoms.
Most people with monkeypox recover completely in two to four weeks without needing medical treatment, but if you have symptoms of monkeypox the CDC recommends talk to your health care provider, even if you don’t think you’ve had contact with someone who has monkeypox.
If you have monkeypox, the CDC recommends isolating yourself at home until the rash has healed and a new layer of skin has formed, and notifying any close contacts who may have been exposed.