A health care worker administers a dose of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine at a pop-up vaccination clinic in Los Angeles, California, on August 9, 2022.
Patrick T Fallon | AFP | Getty Images
Los Angeles health officials are investigating the death of a person who had monkeypox.
dr Rita Singhal, Los Angeles County director of disease control, said it was not clear what role monkeypox may have played in the person’s death. Officials have no further details at this time, Singhal said.
“This is one of two deaths in the United States currently being investigated to determine if monkeypox was a contributory cause of death,” Singhal told reporters during a Thursday news conference.
Texas health officials last month reported the death of an adult in the Houston area who was diagnosed with monkeypox. According to health officials, the person had a severely compromised immune system.
Monkeypox is rarely fatal, but people with weak immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness. The virus causes a painful rash that resembles blisters or pimples.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in a report released Thursday that 38% of the 2,000 patients diagnosed with monkeypox between May and July were HIV positive. According to the study, people with monkeypox and HIV were hospitalized more often than people without HIV.
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The US is trying to contain the world’s largest monkeypox outbreak, with more than 21,000 cases in all 50 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico, according to the CDC.
Nine deaths from monkeypox have been confirmed worldwide since the outbreak began, according to CDC data. Deaths have occurred in Belgium, Brazil, Cuba, Central African Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Nigeria and Spain.
More than 56,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 96 countries since the outbreak began, according to CDC data.
Monkeypox is mainly spread during sex among gay and bisexual men, although anyone can get monkeypox through close contact with someone who is infected or through contaminated materials such as towels and bed sheets.
Federal health officials said this week the outbreak appears to be slowing as vaccines, tests and treatments have become more widely available. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy chief of the White House monkeypox response team, said it took 25 days for cases to double in August, compared with eight days in July.
The US has administered more than 460,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine to date. About 1.6 million gay and bisexual men who have HIV or are taking medication to reduce their risk of HIV infection are at highest risk from monkeypox, according to the CDC.
The monkeypox vaccine Jynneos is given in two doses 28 days apart. CDC officials say getting the second shot is crucial for people at risk. After the second dose, it takes two weeks for the immune system to reach its maximum response.