Health & Science

Person with monkeypox dies in Harris County; health officials investigating cause of death

The person was immunocompromised, and officials said Tuesday they are trying to determine what role the virus played in the death. This is Texas’ first death of someone with monkeypox.

monkeypox vaxx
AP Photo/Jeenah Moon
Vials of single doses of the Jynneos vaccine for monkeypox are seen from a cooler at a vaccinations site in New York this month. Texas has the fourth-highest total monkeypox cases in the country behind California, New York and Florida.

A Harris County resident who was diagnosed with monkeypox has died, state officials said Tuesday.

The person was "severely immunocompromised" and officials with the Texas Health and Human Services department said they are investigating what role, if any, the virus played in the person's death.

"Monkeypox is a serious disease, particularly for those with weakened immune systems," Dr. John Hellerstedt, the Department of State Health Services commissioner said in a statement. "We continue to urge people to seek treatment if they have been exposed to monkeypox or have symptoms consistent with the disease."

The statement goes on to say that "infection with monkeypox is painful but not life threatening" for most people who contract the virus. Monkeypox is generally associated with a rash that may be located on or near the genitals, anus, or areas like the hands, feet, face, mouth and chest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additional symptoms include fever and chills, swollen lymph nodes, muscle and back aches, exhaustion, headaches and congestion or a cough.

As of Monday, there were 1,604 cases of the virus in Texas, the fourth-highest total in the country behind California, New York and Florida.

The White House announced earlier this month that it is making 1.8 million doses of the monkeypox vaccine be available for distribution. That followed the Food and Drug Administration's emergency authorization for intradermal injections of the vaccine, the White House said in a statement. That method, which administers the vaccine between layers of skin, allows for more doses to be administered.

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Got a tip? Email Julián Aguilar at jaguilar@kera.org.You can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar.

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