Over the past year, we have seen a sudden increase in cases of monkeypox around the world. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were over 22,000 cases of monkeypox in the US this year alone. Until recently, there had been no reported deaths from the disease in the US, as vaccines and prevention programs have helped to keep the impacts under control. Just last week, however, the US reported its first death from the virus in Los Angeles County. Here's what we know so far.
As confirmed by the CDC, the Los Angeles County resident died after contracting the virus. That said, they clarified that the patient who had been hospitalized had a pre-existing weak immune system, which they believe contributed significantly to the outcome. As reported in the news release on September 12, the CDC announced they would not give the public further information on the case.
"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," they continued in the press release. Talking to CNN, Dr. William Schaffner explained that the victim's "impaired immune system could not control the virus once it entered his body, the virus multiplied in an uncontained fashion, and it likely spread to several organ systems, causing their malfunction."
Deaths do not usually result from monkeypox cases, which primarily infect babies, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems. On the whole, it's believed that the monkeypox cases are leveling off, but precautions should still be taken. "We're continuing to see a downward trend in Europe," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained last week. "While reported cases from the Americas also declined last week, it's harder to draw firm conclusions about the epidemic in that region. Some countries in the Americas continue to report an increasing number of cases, and in some, there is likely to be underreporting due to stigma and discrimination or a lack of information for those who need it most." He then warned that people should not become complacent after seeing these figures and should continue to do whatever is necessary to stay safe.