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First Death in US of a Person With Monkeypox Confirmed in Texas

Texas officials have reported the first death of a person with monkeypox in the United States, according to a news release from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The patient was an adult resident in Harris County who had a very weak immune system. The death is under investigation to determine what role monkeypox played.

Health officials didn’t share any other details of the case but confirmed that the patient was diagnosed with monkeypox.

“Monkeypox is a serious disease, particularly for those with weakened immune systems,” John Hellerstedt, MD, the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said in the statement.

“We continue to urge people to seek treatment if they have been exposed to monkeypox or have symptoms consistent with the disease,” he said.

For most people, a monkeypox infection is painful but not fatal. Those who have been exposed and high-risk people can get vaccinated. Doctors with patients who face a risk of severe illness should work with the local health department to get their patients vaccinated with the Jynneos shot, and if necessary, treated with the TPOXX antiviral medication, the department said.

Monkeypox symptoms can include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and a new, unexplained rash, the health department said. People who are diagnosed with monkeypox should stay home and avoid close contact with others until the rash has fully resolved, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.

Monkeypox is a preventable disease that spreads through close contact with an infected person. To prevent catching it, people should avoid skin-to-skin contact with someone with a new rash, as well as in large crowds where people may be wearing minimal clothing, such as nightclubs, festivals, raves, saunas, and bathhouses. People should also not share cups, utensils, bedding, or towels with someone who is sick.

The Biden administration announced Monday that it would invest $11 million in domestic production of the Jynneos vaccine. The funds will support making the shots at Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing in Grand Rapids, MI, which will allow the company to purchase the equipment needed to make the vaccine and speed up production.

On Aug. 18, the company and Bavarian Nordic, the Danish company that makes the Jynneos vaccine, announced an agreement to establish a U.S.-based location to finish the vaccine. About 2.5 million of the 5.5 million Jynneos shots ordered by the Biden administration will be filled in the U.S., according to The Hill. So far, about 200,000 first doses have been given across the country.

Last week, CDC officials noted that several major cities – New York, San Francisco, and Chicago – are beginning to report a decrease in new monkeypox cases, the news outlet reported. Officials expressed caution about the trend but said they were hopeful that the outbreak will plateau and decline.

More than 18,400 monkeypox cases have been reported in the U.S., according to the latest CDC data. California and New York have reported more than 3,200 cases, followed by Florida with 1,870, Texas with 1,640, Georgia with nearly 1,400, and Illinois with more than 1,050. The other states have reported 500 or fewer cases, with all states reporting at least two cases.

Worldwide, nearly 50,000 cases have been reported across 99 countries, including 49,500 cases in 92 countries that haven’t historically reported monkeypox, according to the latest CDC data. The U.S. has reported the highest number of cases by far, followed by Spain with 6,543, Brazil with 4,493, and France, Germany, and the U.K. with more than 3,200 each. Other countries have reported 1,500 cases or fewer.

So far, 15 deaths have been reported worldwide, with nine deaths reported in countries where the monkeypox has historically been reported, including Nigeria, Ghana, and the Central African Republic. Two deaths have also been reported in Spain, and one death each has been reported in Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, and India.

Sources

Texas Department of State Health Services: “Texas Confirms First Death of a Person with Monkeypox.”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “HHS Funds U.S.-Based Production of Smallpox and Monkeypox Vaccine.”

The Hill: “Biden administration injects $11M into monkeypox vaccine production.”

CDC: “2022 U.S. Map & Case Count,” updated Aug. 30, 2022; “2022 Monkeypox Outbreak Global Map,” updated Aug. 30, 2022.

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