A second person in the U.S. has died while being infected with monkeypox, health officials in Los Angeles confirmed on Thursday night.
An autopsy is now underway to determine the cause of death, but if it is found to be monkeypox it could be the first fatality from the virus in America.
Last month an adult died in Harris County, Texas, after being diagnosed with monkeypox. An investigation is still underway to determine whether the virus was the cause of death. Globally, 18 people have died from the virus to date, including two in Spain and one in Belgium.
America currently has the largest monkeypox outbreak in the world with 21,504 cases now confirmed, but the outbreak appears to have peaked as the seven-day average for daily cases continues to fall. The virus — native to West Africa — has spread to more than 50 countries so far, with nearly 57,000 cases confirmed.
Pictured above is Dr Rita Singhal, the director of the Disease Control Center for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. She revealed that they had recorded a fatality in a person diagnosed with monkeypox late yesterday at a media briefing
The above graph shows the number of monkeypox cases reported in the US every day (yellow bars) and the seven-day average for new infections (white line). The number of cases detected has been falling since late last month
The above map shows countries reporting confirmed monkeypox deaths. The U.S. is shown in yellow because it has reported two fatalities, but neither has been confirmed as monkeypox
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health revealed its first suspected fatality from monkeypox during a media briefing late Thursday.
Health officials have not revealed the patient’s age, sex or whether they were immunocompromised, however, citing privacy concerns.
Dr Rita Singhal, chief medical officer of the county’s Disease Control Bureau, said: ‘We are currently investigating a death of a person with monkeypox in Los Angeles county.
Timeline of monkeypox in the United States
1958: Monkeypox is discovered when an outbreak of pox-like disease occurred in monkeys kept for research.
1970: First human case of the disease is recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was later detected in a number of other central and western African countries.
2003: U.S. detects monkeypox on its soil for the first time. A total of 47 people are infected after having contact with pet prairie dogs that picked up the disease at a farm.
July, 2021: Monkeypox case detected in the U.S. in a citizen who had recently returned from Nigeria.
November, 2021: Monkeypox is detected in another U.S. resident who recently returned from Nigeria.
May, 2022: Current U.S. monkeypox outbreak — and largest to date — begins. The first case is diagnosed in a man in Massachusetts who had recently returned from Canada. There are now more than 18,000 cases confirmed in the country.
July, 2022: First cases are confirmed in children and a pregnant woman, who are thought to be more at risk from the virus.
August 4, 2022: America declares a public health emergency over the virus.
August 30, 2022: Patient who died is diagnosed with monkeypox in what could be America’s first ever death from the virus. Autopsy launched to determine cause of death.
September 8, 2022: Second death in a person diagnosed with monkeypox is reported in Los Angeles, California.
‘We are early in the investigation and do not have additional details available at this time.
‘As soon as details become available we will share them while maintaining confidentiality and privacy.
‘This is one of two deaths in the United States that are currently under investigation to determine whether monkeypox was a contributing cause of death.’
Last month health officials in Texas also reported an immunocompromised adult diagnosed with monkeypox had died.
They did not name the individual, but said they had been treated in Harris County which encompasses the state’s largest city, Houston. The patient also had ‘various severe illnesses’ besides monkeypox.
An autopsy was started to confirm the person’s cause of death, the results of which are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
At the time local health commissioner Dr John Hellerstedt said: ‘Monkeypox is a serious disease, particularly for those with weakened immune systems.
‘We continue to urge people to seek treatment if they have been exposed to monkeypox or have symptoms consistent with the disease.’
California currently has the largest monkeypox outbreak in America at 4,140 cases diagnosed.
Almost half of infections are in Los Angeles — 1,805 recorded to date.
Health officials in the state say nearly all are in men, and more than 95 percent of them were gay or bisexual. The average age of patients is 35 years.
In recent weeks, however, America’s monkeypox outbreak has appeared to peak in line with that in other nations as health officials finally get on top of the virus.
At the height of the outbreak at the end of August 491 cases were being recorded every day on average.
But this has since more than halved to 242 cases on September 7, the latest date that data is available.
Experts have credited the downturn on a combination of the vaccination drive for the most at risk groups, raised awareness of the illness and successful contact tracing efforts that stopped the virus from spreading to yet more patients.
Many patients have experienced a mild illness during the outbreak, that has not seen them hospitalized although often left suffering severe pain.
This map shows the number of monkeypox cases reported by state. California is the hotspot at present with more than 4,000 cases confirmed
They have also been required to isolate at home for weeks, and were not able to leave the house until rashes scabbed over and the scabs fell off.
Monkeypox is spread primarily via physical touch with rashes that appear on infected patients, or through contact with scabs left on bedding, clothing or towels.
It is not a sexually transmitted infection, only requiring physical contact to be transmitted between people.
But patients can only spread the disease when they are showing symptoms, unlike with Covid where it could be passed on by someone before they realized they had it.
The illness typically starts with flu-like symptoms, before a rash appears and spreads across the entire body. But in the current outbreak many patients have reported suffering rashes first before any flu symptoms appear.