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California announces first confirmed monkeypox death in U.S.

San Francisco Chronicle 9/13/2022 By Aidin Vaziri
California announces first confirmed monkeypox death in US. Pharmacist Uchita Parikh prepares a dose of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine at a pop-up vaccination clinic operated by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health at the West Hollywood Library on Aug. 3, 2022, in West Hollywood. © Mario Tama/Getty Images

California announces first confirmed monkeypox death in US. Pharmacist Uchita Parikh prepares a dose of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine at a pop-up vaccination clinic operated by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health at the West Hollywood Library on Aug. 3, 2022, in West Hollywood.

A Los Angeles County resident who was “severely immunocompromised” has died from monkeypox, local health officials announced Monday. It is believed to be the first confirmed U.S. death due to the virus in the current outbreak.

“Public Health sends heartfelt condolences and wishes of healing to the family and friends mourning the loss of their loved one,” the county health department said in a statement, adding that the cause of death after hospitalization was confirmed with an autopsy.

The death and an investigation into its cause were originally reported last week.

No other information about the individual was made available to protect their “confidentiality and privacy.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks cases in the U.S., confirmed the death and is cooperating with L.A. County officials on the case.

Another monkeypox-related fatality is under investigation in Texas. That person was also severely immunocompromised and their case is under investigation to determine what role monkeypox may have played in their death.

“Persons severely immunocompromised who suspect they have monkeypox are encouraged to seek medical care and treatment early and remain under the care of a provider during their illness,” the L.A. health department said.

In the current outbreak, there have been nine confirmed monkeypox deaths worldwide in countries that have not historically reported monkeypox.

The United States has the most cases of the virus globally, with 21,985 confirmed, according to the CDC. California has recorded the most cases nationally, with at least 4,302 as of Friday, including 1,692 in Los Angeles County, according to state data. San Francisco has the second highest case count at 763.

The California Department of Public Health, which refers to monkeypox as MPX, says the risk of contracting the disease in the general public remains low.

In August, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide public health emergency in response to the rapid spread of monkeypox. There are early indications that the spread of the virus may be slowing.

Monkeypox usually causes flu-like symptoms along with a rash and dense, fluid-filled lesions. The virus is spread by intimate personal contact, including sexual acts and kissing. It can also be spread by sharing bedding or clothes, or potentially breathing in close proximity.

Although many cases resolve on their own, monkeypox can be quite painful and, in rare instances, cause severe illness.

Aidin Vaziri is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: avaziri@sfchronicle.com

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