'No need for alarm' after immunocompromised patient who tested positive for monkeypox dies in Texas

ByTom Abrahams via KTRK logo
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
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Harris County Health reported a patient with monkeypox has died, but that does not mean the patient died from the virus.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas -- Harris County Health reported that a patient with monkeypox has died, but that does not mean the patient died from the virus.

We know that patient, who is not publicly identified, was immunocompromised. An autopsy will determine the cause of death, but still, it has caught the attention of public health officials in Austin, and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To date, there are a reported 18,101 reported cases of monkeypox in the United States, with 1,604 in Texas. And officially, not a single death has been attributed directly to the virus.

"For most people, when they get monkeypox, it is painful, but it is not life-threatening," Lara Anton with the Texas Department of State Health Services said. "If they have a fever and chills, and swollen lymph nodes, and then they have this unexplained rash, that they go get that checked out right away."

The CDC issued a statement after the reported death of the person with monkeypox in which it wrote, in part, "Most people who get this form of the disease are likely to survive. However, people with weakened immune systems may be more likely to get seriously ill or die."

ABC13 spoke with Dr. David Persse, the city of Houston's director of Emergency Medical Services.

"I don't think as Houstonians many people need to worry about dying from monkeypox," Persse said. "But, if you are somebody who is having multiple sexual partners and you contract monkeypox, there is a fairly good chance you're going to have a horrible rash, and for several weeks."

Dr. Luis Ostrosky, an infectious disease expert at UT Health and Memorial Hermann, added that education and awareness are keys to slowing or stopping the virus' spread.

SEE ALSO: Man diagnosed with monkeypox, COVID-19 and HIV at same time

"At this point, there is no evidence that we have community-wide transmission of this virus," he said. "We're in a very delicate moment right now where we have the ability to quash the outbreak by acting in the primary risk population. And if we are able to contain it there, we are going to contain it from going to household transmission and then the school or work transmission."

Harris County does have a monkeypox hotline at (832) 927-0707 for questions and concerns about the virus and the available vaccine.