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The individual who died was “severely immunocompromised,” said the Texas Department of State Health Services in a statement. It’s not clear if the person died from monkeypox, but the agency is investigating the role that the virus played in the person’s death.
The identity, age, and sex of the individual—who was an adult resident in Harris County—were not disclosed. Federal health officials and the World Health Organization (WHO) say that monkeypox is overwhelmingly spreading among homosexual males.
“Monkeypox is a serious disease, particularly for those with weakened immune systems,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, the Texas Department of State Health commissioner, in a statement Tuesday. “We continue to urge people to seek treatment if they have been exposed to monkeypox or have symptoms consistent with the disease.”
According to the most recent data published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 18,101 monkeypox cases have been reported in the United States so far. The virus is rarely life-threatening but can cause painful symptoms that last weeks or months, health authorities said.
Symptoms of monkeypox generally involve pain, chills, fever, and a rash of some type that may scab over.
“Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact in large crowds where people are wearing minimal clothing, such as nightclubs, festivals, raves, saunas, and bathhouses,” said the Texas health department in its statement.
While there has been controversy over whether monkeypox should be considered a sexually transmitted disease, or STD, officials in the CDC and other health agencies have repeatedly called on people to practice “safer sex” and often say that it is homosexual males who are the primary transmitters of the illness.
The number of monkeypox cases reported globally dropped 21 percent over the last week, reversing a month-long trend of rising infections and signaling that Europe’s outbreak may be starting to decline, the WHO said several days ago.
The WHO reported 5,907 new weekly cases and said two countries, Iran and Indonesia, reported their first cases. To date, more than 45,000 monkeypox cases have been reported in 98 countries since late April.
The WHO’s latest report said 98 percent of cases are in men and among those who reported sexual orientation, 96 percent are in men who have sex with men.
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