Health officials are currently investigating the role monkeypox may have played in the death of a person diagnosed with the virus, California officials said Thursday. He is the second known person to die in the United States after contracting the virus during the current outbreak.
The announcement comes less than a month afterthey were investigating a potential death from the virus.
California has recorded 4,140 cases of monkeypox, more than any other state in the country.
“We’re going to do an autopsy. So it takes time for those results to come back. So it could take a few days or a few weeks,” Los Angeles County Dr. Rita Singhal told reporters on Thursday.
The autopsy is scheduled to begin Friday, a county spokesperson later confirmed to CBS News.
Singhal said the county is working with state and federal health officials to investigate the death, which could lead to changes in guidelines for doctors treating Americans who are seriously ill with the virus.
Aside from weeks of rashes and excruciating lesions, authorities said most cases in the outbreak improved with only minimal treatment. Only a handful of reported cases have faced more dangerous symptoms.
The CDC says young children under the age of eight, people who are pregnant or immunocompromised, and people with a history of eczema “may be at particularly increased risk of serious consequences” from the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday reported early data suggesting that some people living with HIV – who account for a large proportion of the epidemic’s cases so far – may be at higher risk of being hospitalized with the disease. , especially if their HIV was untreated.
In Houston’s death reported last month, officials confirmed the patient was “severely immunocompromised.” Singhal declined to confirm any further details of their case, saying they were “at the start of the investigation” into the death.
The CDC has 18 confirmed monkeypox deaths outside the United States in connection with the current outbreak. The CDC says eight of the world’s deaths occur in “places that have not historically reported monkeypox.”
There have been no confirmed monkeypox deaths in the United States related to this outbreak.
The answer to monkeypox
The death in Los Angeles comes at a turning point for the Biden administration’s response to the virus, which recently topped 20,000 reported infections nationwide.
Once in short supply, officials say doses of the monkeypox vaccine are now widely available in many states thanks to the administration’s “intradermal” dose-saving strategy. More than 70% of doses are now given intradermally, officials said.
“While now that supply is less of an issue, we need to make sure we are focused on maintaining demand by ensuring people know that an effective and safe vaccine is available for those who could benefit from it” , Bob Fenton, senior White House monkeypox official. , said Wednesday.
CDC officials have said since August that the agency may soon expand its recommendations to health departments now rationing the vaccine, which currently urge jurisdictions to prioritize “post-exposure prophylaxis” shots for people “after known or suspected exposure to a person with monkeypox”. ”
Of more than one million vials of vaccines distributed nationwide, jurisdictions requested 775,033 doses from the Biden administration.
Officials credited the vaccination campaign with helping to slow the rate of new reported cases of monkeypox. In a technical report last week, the CDC said it expects the US epidemic to be on track to “grow very slowly” over the coming month “likely with a declining rate of growth.”
However, the agency also acknowledged that it had “low confidence” in the assessment. Some states are now starting to see “accelerating” outbreaks of the virus, the CDC noted.
The new phase of the epidemic also heralded a leadership reshuffle at the CDC, which recently tapped the head of its National Center for the Prevention of HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STDs, and Tuberculosis (NCHHSTP) to take charge of the management of the response.
The agency also recently amended its guidelines on monkeypox, removing a line that pointed out that monkeypox does not meet the textbook definition of a sexually transmitted disease.
“Monkeypox is often transmitted by close and sustained physical contact, almost exclusively associated with sexual contact in the current outbreak,” the CDC says in its new recommendations.
“Monkey pox poses new health and safety concerns. This demands that we all step up our expertise, tools, partnerships, programs and talents,” wrote Dr. Jono Mermin, Director of NCHHSTP, in a letter announcing his new role as head of the monkeypox response. .
The ranks of the agency working on monkeypox have also swelled in recent months, amid the growing complexity of the outbreak.
Among the new challenges soon to be on Mermin’s plate: The CDC recently spotted a “significant” mutation in the monkeypox virus that resulted in at least three infected Californians who initially received “false negative” results.
While scientists believe the mutation is still rare, the change prompted the agency to issue a warning to labs urging them to update their tests to guard against missed cases.
The warning came just weeks after the agency also urged some labs to recheck some of their results due to “false positives” spotted in women and children misdiagnosed with the virus.
“Many people within the CDC and NCHHSTP are currently working on the monkeypox response, and many public health colleagues across the country are being asked to take on additional responsibilities. I look forward to joining them in this effort.” , Mermin wrote.
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