Health officials are working to determine whether a monkeypox infection was a contributing factor in the death of Los Angeles County resident.
The case is only the second in the United States being investigated as a possible monkeypox death. Texas previously reported a death involving a monkeypox patient.
“We are early in the investigation and do not have additional details available at this time,” Dr. Rita Singhal, chief medical officer for the county Department of Public Health, said. “As soon as details become available we will share them while maintaining confidentiality and privacy.”
The death has not been confirmed to be the result of the individual’s monkeypox infection, she said.
“We do have a death of a person who did have a diagnosis of monkeypox, and so this is something we will investigate further,” Singhal said.
County health officials will work with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state to investigate the circumstances around the death.
There have been seven confirmed deaths among monkeypox cases in non-endemic countries, Singhal said.
As of Thursday, there were 1,805 confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox identified in the county, the vast majority of them involving gay men.
How is monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox is considered a rare disease that causes an illness similar to small pox. It can spread from humans, animals and materials carrying the virus, but it is less transmissible and generally less severe than smallpox.
Monkeypox spread primarly through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, hugging, massaging, and cuddling, according to the California Department of Public Health. It also can spread by touching materials used by an infected person that have not been cleaned, like clothes and bedding, and through respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact, the agency said.
The virus is not spread through casual brief conversations and by walking by someone with monkeypox, like you would at a grocery store.
What are monkeypox symptoms?
It starts with something like the flu — fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches. Within one to three days after those symptoms appear, a rash or sores can develop. The sores go through stages that include scabs before they heal. They look like pimples or blisters, and they might be painful and itchy.
The type of monkeypox virus identified in this outbreak are rarely fatal. People usually recover within weeks.
How can we prevent the spread of monkeypox?
Here’s a list of prevention tips from the California Department of Public Health.
- Always talking to your sexual partner/s about any recent illness and being aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including on the genitals and anus
- Avoiding close contact, including sex, with people with symptoms like sores or rashes
- Practicing good hand hygiene
- People who become infected should isolate until their symptoms are improving or have gone away completely. Rash should always be well covered until completely healed.
- Using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) (like a mask, gown, and gloves) when caring for others with symptoms
- Avoiding contact with infected materials contaminated with the virus
- Avoiding contact with infected animals