LA County Health Dept., CDC Confirm County’s First Monkeypox Death

LA County Health Dept., CDC Confirm County’s First Monkeypox Death
Test tube labelled "Monkeypox virus positive" in a photo illustration taken on May 22, 2022. (Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters)
City News Service

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed Sept. 12 the first death due to monkeypox in a county resident.

The person “was severely immunocompromised and had been hospitalized,” the health department said in a statement Monday.

“To protect confidentiality and privacy, additional information on this case will not be made public,” the agency said.

“Public Health sends heartfelt condolences and wishes of healing to the family and friends mourning the loss of their loved one,” the department said.

The case first came to light last Thursday, when health officials announced the death of a person who was infected with monkeypox—though, at the time, an investigation was still ongoing as to whether the ailment was a contributing factor in the fatality.

The case was only the second in the United States being investigated as a possible monkeypox death. Texas previously reported a death involving a monkeypox patient.

Dr. Rita Singhal, chief medical officer for the county health department, said last week that, worldwide, there have been “seven confirmed deaths among monkeypox cases in non-endemic countries.”

As of Thursday, there were 1,805 confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox identified in the county, the vast majority of them involving gay men.

The health department Monday urged people who are severely immunocompromised and who suspect they have monkeypox to seek medical care and treatment early and remain under the care of a provider during their illness.

Monkeypox is generally spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact, resulting from infectious rashes and scabs, though respiratory secretions and bodily fluids exchanged during extended physical episodes, such as sexual intercourse, can also lead to transmission, according to the CDC.

It can also be transmitted through the sharing of contaminated items such as bedding and towels.

Symptoms include fresh pimples, blisters, rashes, fever, and fatigue. There is no specific treatment. People who have been infected with smallpox, or have been vaccinated for it, may have immunity to monkeypox.

According to health officials, the vaccine can prevent infection if given before or shortly after exposure to the virus. More information is available online.