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Echo Park in Los Angeles (Photo: Evan Symon for California Globe)

First US Monkeypox Death Recorded in LA County

Health experts say that deaths are still very rare, only common sense precautions should still be taken

By Evan Symon, September 13, 2022 2:30 am

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced on Monday that the first U.S. death of monkeypox occurred in the County.

Due to patient confidentiality and privacy laws, no additional information was given in the announcement besides that the LA County resident had been severely immunocompromised and had been hospitalized.

For the last several month both the state and local counties have been ramping up precautions against monkeypox. Monkeypox, a virus that cause rashes, swollen glands, and fever among other symptoms that is also rarely deadly, had it’s first recorded cases in Africa in early May. Since then cases have gradually climbed across the U.S., with roughly 4,300 currently having the virus in California. Due to the concern over the spread of monkeypox, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency over the virus in early August, with the state legislature forming a select subcommittee on the virus only a few days later.

However, while thousands of Americans have contracted monkeypox during the summer, there had been no reported deaths until Monday. A case in Houston, Texas, which had been previously reported as the first, has still not provided a definite answer if monkeypox actually killed the man in question, leaving the LA case to be the first official death in the country.

Those fighting the virus in California noted that deaths from monkeypox remain extremely rare and that the LA case had simply been the unfortunate one to be the first.

“Monkeypox deaths remain very rare,” explained nurse Ellen Barkley, who has been assisting some local efforts in California, to the Globe on Monday. “Out of 47,000 documented cases this year worldwide, 15 had died. By comparison 22 out of 100,000 die of the flu in the U.S. So if you take into account the U.S. having better medical facilities than many countries, it s roughly the same or lower. That’s how low we are talking about.”

“This is not state of emergency level numbers still. Should we keep an eye on it, warn the public, and take precautionary measures? Absolutely. But we don’t need to scare anyone over this. The person who died in LA County had even been said to be immunocompromised, so the real message should be ‘If you are at risk, take precautions’. We have people in government and medical institutions keeping track of the numbers in case something changes.”

“We’re all still so jumpy after COVID-19 and really don’t want to have to go through lockdowns and using PPE on a daily basis again. That is what is fueling all of this, so its not coming from a bad place per say, but a place of being overly gung ho of stopping it. After every major outbreak or bad flu season we are like this, but COVID was so big that it is really showing in us.. Again, bottom-line, just take the necessary precautions.”

As of Monday, the LA County death remains the only confirmed American death from Monkeypox.

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One thought on “First US Monkeypox Death Recorded in LA County

  1. LA County is a big place – this wouldn’t happen to be in West Hollywood, would it???

    Asking for a friend…

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