A Los Angeles resident with a compromised immune system has died of monkeypox in what is believed to be the first US fatality from the virus.
The Los Angeles department of public health reconfirmed the death on Monday, and said that the individual was severely immunocompromised and had been hospitalized. No other information on the person was released.
The department and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made the determination that the death was due to monkeypox. A CDC spokesperson confirmed the cooperation but did not immediately respond when asked if this was the first US death.
It is the second known death of a person diagnosed with the disease in the United States. Texas last month reported the first death in a severely immunocompromised person who was diagnosed with monkeypox. However, that case is still under investigation to see what role monkeypox played in the death.
Monkeypox is rarely fatal, but people with weakened immune systems may be more likely to get seriously ill or die, health officials say. Monkeypox can cause a rash, fever, body aches and chills but relatively few people require hospitalizations and only a handful of deaths worldwide have been directly linked to the disease.
Anyone can become infected with monkeypox, which spreads through close contact with an infected person. Nearly all of the more than 21,985 monkeypox cases in the United States have occurred among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, according to the CDC.
The Biden administration and the CDC have been criticized as slow to tackle the virus, and in recent weeks announced efforts to distribute nearly 2m additional vaccines. Cases in some large US cities do appear to be declining, matching trends seen in Europe, and experts are cautiously optimistic the outbreak may have peaked in places that were hit hardest.
The United States has the most cases globally, with 21,985 confirmed, according to the CDC. California has recorded the most cases nationally, with more than 4,300. Black people and Latinos have been disproportionately infected.
Reuters contributed reporting