Illinois and Maryland have recorded their first deaths in the, local health officials announced Friday, a day after officials in New York and Nevada said that they had also identified their first deaths in residents who had tested positive for the virus.
The first confirmed death this year wasand a second was reported last month in Ohio. Officials have not yet confirmed whether a death in Texas reported in August was due to monkeypox.
Chicago’s health department said Friday that two residents had died with “multiple other health conditions, including weakened immune systems.” The people were diagnosed with the virus “more than six weeks ago, and both had been hospitalized.”
Also on Friday, Maryland’s health department said in a release that monkeypox “was a contributing factor” in a death reported there. That person was also “immunocompromised, resulting in a more severe case.”
On Thursday, a spokesperson for New York state’s health department had said two residents of New York City “recently passed away” after testing positive. Both were facing “underlying conditions that placed them at high risk of severe outcomes from monkeypox infection.”
In Nevada, authorities also announced Thursday that a man in the Las Vegas area had died after being diagnosed with monkeypox.
“The patient was a male over the age of 50 with underlying medical conditions whose death was attributed to other causes,” the Southern Nevada Health Department said in a release.
All four jurisdictions who have reported new monkeypox deaths over the past few days have declined to offer additional details about the deaths, citing privacy concerns.
Federal officials had said earlier this week that several deaths linked to the virus were being investigated around the country.
Abelieved to have monkeypox remains unconfirmed, aa spokesperson for the Houston area’s Harris Health System said on Wednesday, pending results from the CDC.
The new deaths come months after a surge of new monkeypox cases had crested nationwide. The pace of new infections has largely plummeted around the country.
New York City, once an early hotspot of infections, is averaging only a handful of new infections per day on average. San Francisco announced Thursday the city was planning to soon end its emergency declaration for the outbreak.
Overall, cases are still overwhelmingly being reported among men who have sex with men. However, some demographics have shifted since early in the outbreak: Federal data suggest a majority of new cases are now in non-White patients.
Federal health officials have also warned that the agency had seen a growing number of severe infections and hospitalizations as the virus had spread into more vulnerable groups, including homeless communities.
“There have been cases identified, several hundred actually, including severe cases. Anecdotally, those seem to be in people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. And we are working to try to understand the exposures that have occurred,” the CDC’s Agam Rao said Wednesday at the ID Week conference.
Rao said the agency had also fielded a growing number of requests from doctors treating severe monkeypox infections in people with underlying conditions, like advanced untreated HIV.
“When people are severely immunocompromised, then they don’t have the ability to clear the virus on their own,”
Rao said some severe cases had received treatment with tecovirimat, an experimental antiviral drug being used to treat severe monkeypox cases.
“That slows down the replication. But the immune system still needs to be the one to clear the actual virus,” said Rao.