A resident of Los Angeles County, California, has died from monkeypox in what is possibly the first American death linked to the disease, local health officials said.
The Los Angeles Department of Public Health reported the death on Thursday, but said the exact cause of death was being investigated at the time. The department on Tuesday confirmed that the person had died from monkeypox, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Public health officials said the person was severely immunocompromised and was admitted to hospital, adding that no additional information would be shared to protect the person's identity.
“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 department said.
Another monkeypox-related death — another person who was “severely compromised” — was reported in Texas last month, but public health officials have yet to officially confirm that the death was caused by the illness.
Facing criticism over its delayed response to the monkeypox outbreak in the US, the White House last month announced plans to make more than 1.8 million doses of monkeypox vaccines available for states to order.
Los Angeles County last week announced it had expanded monkeypox vaccine eligibility for residents who may be exposed to the illness in the future, in addition to those currently at risk of exposure to it.
The US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has reported nearly 22,000 monkeypox cases in the country, and there are close to 58,000 presumed cases worldwide.
Los Angeles County has reported more than 1,800 monkeypox cases, public health data showed on Tuesday.
The disease can spread to anyone through close — often skin-to-skin — contact including direct contact with monkeypox rash or by touching clothes worn by an infected person, as well as through sex, the CDC said.
Infections of monkeypox are rarely fatal. People with compromised immune systems, children under the age of 8 and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are more likely to become seriously ill or die from the disease.