Editor’s note: This story was updated on Aug. 30 after officials in Texas confirmed the first death of a person with monkeypox in the United States. This story has been updated with the latest information.
On July 23, the World Health Organization declared the current monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. As of Aug. 30, cases of monkeypox have been detected in at least 99 countries, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.
VERIFY has been fact-checking claims about the monkeypox virus since the first case was detected in the U.S. in May.
In early August, a VERIFY viewer messaged to us to ask if there have been any monkeypox deaths in the United States since the outbreak first began.
Have there been any monkeypox deaths in the U.S.?
Yes, there has been a confirmed monkeypox death in the U.S.
WHAT WE FOUND
On Aug. 30, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) confirmed the first death of a person diagnosed with monkeypox in the United States.
The patient was an adult resident of Harris County who was severely immunocompromised. The case is under investigation to determine what role monkeypox played in the death, the department said.
“Monkeypox is a serious disease, particularly for those with weakened immune systems,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS Commissioner. “We continue to urge people to seek treatment if they have been exposed to monkeypox or have symptoms consistent with the disease.”
The World Health Organization publishes situation reports every week on the current monkeypox outbreak. The latest report included data from WHO member countries up to Aug. 22, and was published on Aug. 24.
Data from the CDC shows that as of August 30, there have been 18,101 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S. Each state has detected cases of monkeypox.
According to WHO data, as of Aug. 22, there have been 41,664 confirmed monkeypox cases worldwide and 12 confirmed monkeypox deaths outside of the U.S..
Previous monkeypox outbreaks in recent times have had a case fatality rate of about 3-6%, the WHO says. A death rate for the current outbreak worldwide has not been established.
According to WHO, with the exception of areas in Africa where monkeypox has a history of transmission, the current monkeypox outbreak is largely being reported among men who have sex with men, who have had recent sex with one or multiple partners. The CDC says transmission in the United States is being seen among the same community.
According to Mark Slifka, Ph.D., so far the virus has not spread significantly among populations in the U.S. that are more susceptible to severe monkeypox disease.
“Kids are more susceptible to a lethal infection, as well as people who are immunocompromised, for instance, a person with cancer or taking chemotherapy or immunosuppressive drugs or have untreated HIV,” Slifka, who studied infectious diseases and vaccine development during the 2003 monkeypox outbreak that happened in the U.S., told VERIFY.
“The good news is, if there is good news, is that young, healthy adults have a lower risk of mortality. But that doesn't mean this is a disease that you want to ignore. It's very important to reduce these transmissions because it can spread to other household contents, to other family members, including these more susceptible and vulnerable populations,” he said.
If you have a new or unexplained rash or other symptoms, the CDC says it is important to avoid close contact with others, including sex or being intimate with anyone, until you have been checked out by a healthcare provider.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a vaccine that would prevent monkeypox and smallpox in 2019. The Jynneos vaccine is administered in two doses and is recommended for individuals 18 and older that are at high risk for monkeypox. The CDC has a list of current eligibility for the vaccine:
1. Known contacts who are identified by public health via case investigation, contact tracing, and risk exposure assessments
2. Presumed contacts who may meet the following criteria:
- Know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox
- Had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in a jurisdiction with known monkeypox
Some states have expanded their eligibility criteria beyond what the CDC has recommended. If you have questions about your state’s vaccine eligibility criteria, contact your local health department.