Los Angeles health officials are investigating the death of a person who had monkeypox

A healthcare professional 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, director of disease control in Los Angeles County, said it is unclear 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 that are currently being investigated to determine whether monkeypox was a contributing cause of death,” Singhal told reporters at a news conference Thursday.

Health officials in Texas last month reported the death of an adult in the Houston area diagnosed with monkeypox. The individual had a severely compromised immune system, according to health officials.

Monkeypox is rarely fatal, but people with weak immune systems are at greater risk for serious illness. The virus causes a painful rash that resembles blisters or pimples.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a report released Thursday, found that 38 percent of the 2,000 patients diagnosed with monkeypox from May to July were HIV positive. People who have monkeypox and HIV were hospitalized more often than those who didn’t have HIV, according to the study.

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According to the CDC, the United States is trying to contain the largest monkeypox outbreak in the world, with more than 21,000 cases in all 50 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

Nine monkeypox deaths have been confirmed worldwide since the outbreak began, according to data from the CDC. Deaths occurred in Belgium, Brazil, Cuba, the 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 data from the CDC.

It turns out that monkeypox is mainly spread during sex between gay and bisexual men, although anyone can contract monkeypox through close contact with someone who is infected or through contaminated materials like towels and sheets.

Federal health officials said this week that the outbreak appears to be slowing as vaccines, tests and treatments have become more widely available. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy head of the White House monkeypox response team, said it took 25 days for cases to double in August from eight days in July.

The United States has so far administered more than 460,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine. According to the CDC, approximately 1.6 million gay and bisexual men who have HIV or who are taking medications to reduce their risk of getting HIV are at the highest risk of monkeypox.

The monkeypox vaccine, Jynneos, is given in two doses 28 days apart. CDC officials say it is imperative that those at risk receive the second blow. It takes two weeks after the second dose for the immune system to peak in response.