Monkeypox: US reports first death of person diagnosed with virus

Medical syringes and a bottle are seen with 'Monkeypox' sign and monkeypox illustrative model displayed on a screen in the background in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland.

Texas has reported the first death of a person diagnosed with monkeypox in the US, with health officials investigating what role the virus played.

On Tuesday (30 August), the Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed that a “severely immunocompromised” monkeypox patient had passed away on Sunday (28 August) at Harris County hospital.

Their death is the first reported in the US among those diagnosed with the virus in the current outbreak, however health officials said that the case was still under investigation to determine what role, if any, monkeypox played in the person’s death. A final autopsy report will be released within the next few weeks.

Harris County chief executive, judge and emergency manager Lina Hidalgo said: “We are sharing this information to err on the side of transparency and to avoid potential misinformation about this case.

“The best way for us to fight this virus is through vaccines. Our goal is still to get as many people who qualify vaccinated as quickly as possible – I have always felt that vaccines are the key to reducing spread.”

The the current outbreak began in May of this year, and has spread across the world to countries where the virus is not endemic.

The US has seen more than 18,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox. Globally, there have been more than 48,000 new cases, and 15 deaths.

Deaths of the virus remain extremely rare, and have so far been confirmed in Mexico, Peru, India, Brazil and Spain.

Although anyone can contract monkeypox, the majority of cases have involved men who have sex with men.

According to the World Health Organisation’s most recent monkeypox situation report, 98 per cent of cases are among men, with an average age of 36.

Where sexual orientation is reported, 96 per cent of global cases are among men who have sex with men, with a sexual encounter the most commonly reported mode of transmission.

However the report also showed that for the first time, after four consecutive weeks of increase, the number of monkeypox cases reported globally declined by 21 per cent during the week of 15 to 21 August, tentatively suggesting that the outbreak may be slowing.