Monkeypox virus, illustration.
Thom Leach | Science Photo Library | Getty Images
Texas health officials said Tuesday that a person diagnosed with monkeypox died in what may be the nation’s first-known fatality from the virus.
The patient was an adult with a severely compromised immune system who lived in the Houston area, health officials said. The case is under investigation to determine what role monkeypox played in the individual’s death, officials said.
Monkeypox is generally not life threatening, but people with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of severe disease. Patients typically develop lesions that often look similar to pimples or blisters and cause excruciating pain.
Eight countries have reported 15 deaths from monkeypox since the global outbreak began, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths were previously reported in Cuba, Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Spain and the Central African Republic.
The U.S. is battling the largest monkeypox outbreak in the world right now. More than 18,000 cases have been across the country, with infections now confirmed in every state as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., according to CDC data.
Nearly 49,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported across 99 countries, according to the data.
The virus is primarily spreading through sexual contact among gay and bisexual men, according to the CDC. About 94% of confirmed cases were associated with sex and nearly all of the patients are men who have sex with men, Demetre Daskalakis, the deputy head of the White House monkeypox response team, told reporters on Friday.
The outbreak in the U.S. is disproportionately affecting Black and Hispanic men. About 30% of monkeypox patients are white, 32% are Hispanic and 33% are Black, according to CDC data. Whites make up about 59% of the U.S. population while Hispanics and Blacks account for 19% and 13%, respectively.
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