Death of Los Angeles County man infected with monkeypox under investigation by health officials

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On Thursday in Los Angeles County, California, health officials confirmed the death of a man who was recently diagnosed with monkeypox. This brings the number of deaths with confirmed monkeypox infection to two in the United States. On August 30, Harris County, Texas reported the first such death in the US in a severely debilitated individual. Dr. John Hellerstedt of the Texas Department of Health said at the time that the case was being investigated to determine what role infection played in his death.

Mayor London Breed speaks during a press conference after declaring a state of emergency due to monkeypox at San Francisco City Hall, Thursday, July 28, 2022. [AP Photo/Eric Risberg]

Like Hellerstedt, chief medical officer of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Dr. Rita Singhal, was cautious about attributing the cause of death to the monkeypox virus until an autopsy was performed and her role in his death could not be determined.

Singhal said of the death: “We are at the beginning of the investigation and we do not have any further details at this time. We will share details as they become available, while maintaining confidentiality and privacy.”

California, which has 4,346 monkeypox cases to date, has the highest number of infections of any state in the country, including 14 cases among those 19 and younger. In total, more than 22,000 cases have been reported in the US since May, of which 89 confirmed or suspected cases are among children or adolescents. Florida leads in this category with 27 children’s cases.

The global case the number for non-endemic regions during the 2022 monkeypox outbreak reached more than 64,000, affecting more than 100 countries and territories. While international cases have been on a downward trend since mid-August, the drop has been steepest across Europe, down 70 percent on average over seven days per month. However, cases seem to have leveled off recently.

By comparison, the seven-day average of U.S. cases fell by just 35 percent, settling at about 500 cases a day. Meanwhile, Latin America, where the number of cases has risen above 10,000 confirmed cases, is seeing continued growth in the seven-day average. In particular, with almost 6,000 confirmed infections, Brazil remains the epicenter of South America. In addition to confirmed cases, more than 5,900 suspected cases indicate a significant underestimation of such infections.

Including the two deaths in the US, global monkeypox deaths in non-endemic countries remain low at 16. But if endemic countries are added to the tally, the global number of cases rises to more than 68,000 and the number of deaths jumps significantly. Most of these deaths occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

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