- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 13, 2022

California and federal officials have confirmed the first U.S. death from monkeypox.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health on Monday said a patient who was severely immunocompromised died after being hospitalized with the disease, which features a painful rash but is rarely fatal.

“Public Health sends heartfelt condolences and wishes of healing to the family and friends mourning the loss of their loved one,” county officials said. “To protect confidentiality and privacy, additional information on this case will not be made public.”

County officials said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the link between the death and the monkeypox virus.

A similar case in a severely immunocompromised person was reported in Texas in late August, though officials were unable to definitively tie the death to monkeypox.

The U.S. has recorded nearly 22,000 cases of monkeypox since the virus, which is endemic to Africa, started popping up in nonendemic places in the spring. California, the most populous state, has recorded the most cases, with 4,300.

Most of the cases have impacted gay and bisexual men through their social networks, though anyone can contract the virus through close personal contact.

The Biden administration is scrambling to distribute vaccines to at-risk persons and says it is heartened by a gradual slowdown in the rise of cases. Most patients recover, though the L.A. case underscored the risk for persons with weakened immune systems.

“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,” L.A. County Public Health said.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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