Texas Resident with 'Presumptive Positive' Case of Monkeypox and Various Illnesses Dies

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This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. Monkeypox, a disease that rarely appears outside Africa, has been identified by European and American health authorities in recent days.
This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. Monkeypox, a disease that rarely appears outside Africa, has been identified by European and American health authorities in recent days.

Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP Monkeypox virions

A Texas resident with various severe illnesses, including a presumptive positive test of monkeypox, died Sunday, Harris County Public Health (HCPH) confirms.

The health department assured that the patient's cause of death remains unknown and officials will determine what role monkeypox played in the individual's death. Autopsy results will be available in the next few weeks.

Health officials say no additional information about the patient will be shared out of respect for the family's privacy.

"We are sharing this information to err on the side of transparency and to avoid potential misinformation about this case," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a release. "The best way for us to fight this virus is through vaccines. Our goal is still to get as many people who qualify vaccinated as quickly as possible – I have always felt that vaccines are the key to reducing spread."

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The department is currently working closely with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"We continue our work to control the monkeypox outbreak in our community and build a healthier and stronger," Harris County HCPH Director Barbie Robinson.

HCPH urges those who have been exposed to monkeypox to contact their healthcare providers. Texas currently has 1,604 confirmed cases of the virus and the nationwide total is 18,101, according to the CDC.

So far, no monkeypox deaths have been reported in the United States.

Monkeypox spreads primarily through skin-to-skin contact, direct contact with bodily fluids or lesions. The main form of transmission is through respiratory droplets, but it would require prolonged contact with an infected person.

The virus can be prevented with the Jynneos smallpox vaccine, which can also be effective after a person is infected, according to the CDC. Along with the vaccine, medical professionals have also used an antiviral treatment called tecovirimat (TPOXX), to treat monkeypox in patients who are more likely to get severely ill.