Monkeypox: US confirms first death caused by virus

A graphic with a dark purple tint across it and a virus image to the side shows a picture of a hand holding a test tube with monkeypox written on it

The US has reported its first confirmed monkeypox death.

The Department of Public Health (DPH) along with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed on 12 September that an LA resident’s death was due to monkeypox.

It comes after Texas shared news of a person who had been diagnosed with monkeypox dying in August – however it’s not been confirmed if the virus caused the death.

The LA resident, who has not been named, was severely immunocompromised and had been hospitalised. 

The DPH told PinkNews it sends “heartfelt condolences and wishes of healing to the family and friends mourning the loss of their loved one”. 

The US has confirmed more than 20,000 monkeypox cases since the outbreak began.

However, CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday that the rate of new cases is slowing across the country.

Director-general at the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said we’re now seeing a downward trend in monkeypox throughout Europe.

Earlier this month Hong Kong activated a response plan to prevent spread of the virus, after confirming its first case.

‘People are suffering unnecessarily’

In the UK, new health secretary Thérèse Coffey is being urged to build bridges with the LGBTQ+ community, and to take serious steps to squash monkeypox.

Head of policy and campaigns at the National AIDS Trust, Danny Beales, said: “We need urgent action on monkeypox from the new health secretary. 

“The outbreak has so far not had the resources and attention it needs. We have the tools to vaccinate, test and treat people with monkeypox, so people are suffering unnecessarily.”

According to WHO, symptoms of monkeypox include an initial fever, intense headache and swelling of the lymph nodes, but several patients have complained of much worse. 

One of the first known cases of the virus in France, Corentin Hennebert, spoke about his experiences with the disease to news agency Agency France-Presse, saying: “All I could think about was the pain.

“I constantly had the impression that razor blades were being thrust into me – I can’t think of any other comparison, [the pain] was so strong.”

Anyone who is severely immunocompromised and suspects they may have monkeypox is encouraged to seek medical care and early treatment. It is advised for people to remain under the care of a provider during their illness.