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LA County Health Dept., CDC confirm first death in county due to monkeypox

Israel Monkeypox
Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP
/
CDC
This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed Monday 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.

"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 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.

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