Two potential monkeypox deaths under investigation in U.S.; virus has caused 18 deaths globally

By: - September 9, 2022 4:06 pm

Monkeypox. Credit: World Health Organization.

It’s been nearly two weeks since an investigation was launched in the death of a person in Texas who was diagnosed with monkeypox but had other severe illnesses. Now, another potential death connected to the virus is under investigation in Los Angeles County in California, leaving Americans waiting to see when or if monkeypox deaths will be confirmed in the United States.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 18 deaths in other countries across the globe.

Monkeypox is associated with a painful rash on various parts of the body and other symptoms.

The WHO as well as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said vaccines against monkeypox should be targeted toward members of high-risk groups. Although anyone can contract the virus, officials note that most cases have afflicted men who have sex with men.

Texas case still under investigation

As previously reported by the Florida Phoenix, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced in late August an investigation into an adult resident of Harris County diagnosed with the virus who had died but “was severely immunocompromised.”

That investigation into the potential Texas death is still ongoing, according to a spokesperson for the Harris County Public Health.

“The case is still under investigation to determine the cause of death of the Harris County resident with presumptive monkeypox,” Harris County Public Health spokesperson Eddie Miranda said in an email Friday to the Phoenix.

“Harris County Public Health will share further updates as soon as we are able to confirm.”

It’s not clear why the investigation is taking so much time.

In Florida, the virus has spread to 39 counties, with 2,193 total cases – mostly in South Florida, according to the latest report Friday from the Florida Department of Health. Miami-Dade and Broward counties had the largest caseloads.

The cases also show increases in younger age groups that have been infected– ages 15-19, 20-24, and 25-29.

WHO data show 18 deaths

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization and the federal Centers for Disease Control have been monitoring the 2022 outbreak. Data from the WHO show a total of 18 deaths, including four deaths each in Ghana and Nigeria: and two deaths in the countries of Central African Republic, Spain and Brazil.

Other countries reporting one death include Belgium, Cuba, India and Ecuador.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health held a press conference Thursday, with officials announcing that they are investigating a death of a person who had been diagnosed with monkeypox.

Dr. Rita Singhal, chief medical officer for the Los Angeles County Department of Health, provided an update on monkeypox cases in Los Angeles and said the death has not been confirmed “as due to monkeypox.”

“We are currently investigating a death of a person with monkeypox in Los Angeles County,” she said. “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.”

Singhal said that an autopsy is being performed on the person who died but did not mention whether the person had any underlying health conditions. “It does take time for those (autopsy) results to come back so it may be as soon as a few days or it may take a few weeks,” she said.

“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,” she added.

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.

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