HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — State health chiefs confirmed on Tuesday the first death in Texas of someone diagnosed with monkeypox – an adult from Harris County. It could be the first in the United States.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said the deceased was “severely immunocompromised.” The death is being investigated to find out what role monkey pox played.
State health officials explained that for most people, monkeypox is painful but not life-threatening.
“Monkeypox is a serious disease, especially for people with weakened immune systems,” DSHS commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt said in a press release. “We continue to urge people to seek treatment if they have been exposed to monkeypox or have symptoms consistent with the disease.”
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the 2022 monkeypox outbreak shows 15 deaths in total worldwide. These deaths occurred outside the United States, including in Nigeria, Ghana and Spain, among others. The data was last updated on Monday evening.
Monday CDC data shows that Texas has recorded 1,604 cases so far. This is currently the fourth highest number in the country. California, New York and Florida are the states with the most cases so far.
How to Avoid Spreading, Catching Monkeypox
The DSHS said you should contact your doctor if you have a fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and a new, unexplained rash. People diagnosed with the virus should stay home and avoid close contact with others until the rash clears up completely (when the scabs fall off and a new layer of skin forms).
The department said monkeypox is spread through close contact with an infected person, but can be prevented using these guidelines:
- Avoid close skin-to-skin contact with anyone who has a new, unexplained rash.
- Avoid close skin-to-skin contact in large crowds where people wear minimal clothing, such as nightclubs, festivals, raves, saunas and bathhouses.
- Do not share cups, utensils, bedding or towels with a sick person.
- Stay home when you are sick.
People who have been exposed to the disease can get vaccinated against it. Others who are also at high risk of being infected can also seek out the JYNNEOS vaccine, DSHS said.