As cases of monkeypox continue to rise globally, health officials are investigating reports of several new deaths, which include the first batch of deaths reported from countries outside of where the virus is endemic to animals.
The global case count is now over 25,000, with more than 6,000 in the United States. The global death toll has now reached at least 10. Officials previously reported three deaths from Nigeria and two from the Central African Republic, both of which have historically reported monkeypox outbreaks. On Monday, Ghana, which also had historical cases, reported its first death. At the same time, four new deaths were reported in Spain (2), Brazil (1) and India (1). WHO officials are still waiting for more clinical information about the cases.
Initial media reports indicate that the death in Brazil was of a 41-year-old man who had lymphoma and was immunocompromised, and therefore more likely to develop severe disease.
The other three cases of encephalitis – encephalitis – a known potential complication of monkeypox, have reportedly died. In India, officials said a 22-year-old man died after returning from a trip to the United Arab Emirates, where he initially tested positive for the virus. He delayed treatment while in the Emirates, but then deteriorated upon his return to India, and died in hospital after being put on a ventilator. Officials there told reporters that he also tested positive for the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes infectious mononucleosis, and that they were still investigating other possible underlying health conditions.
In Spain, a 31-year-old and 44-year-old died of encephalitis associated with monkeypox. Reports so far indicate that both were previously healthy and not immunocompromised.
Historically, both monkeypox virus in the multinational outbreak are thought to result in a mortality rate of up to 3 percent in endemic countries. Although deaths are still rare in the current multinational outbreak, health officials say they are seeing a broader spectrum of illnesses.
new clinical data
“We are seeing new manifestations of the disease,” Rosamund Lewis, WHO technical chief for monkeypox control, said in a question-and-answer video on Tuesday. These new manifestations include conditions that “can be very painful and need medical attention, such as secondary infections or such as inflammation or swelling of the rectum,” she said.
Lewis went on to note reports of deaths, including cases of encephalitis. “This is very tragic, and not entirely surprising,” she said. She said that the World Health Organization will publish more information about the cases as soon as they arrive from countries.
More disease and possibly mortality data may emerge as the outbreak continues. Some countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom, are experiencing a plateau or perhaps a slow decline. But other countries, such as the United States, Peru and Brazil, are still seeing significant increases.
In the United States, the total number of cases now stands at 6,326, the largest number in the world, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The US confirmed its first case on May 18 and added more than 2,500 cases in the past week or so. Cases have now been reported in every state, except for Wyoming and Montana. So far, no deaths have been reported.
On Monday, Hakka, California and Illinois declared states of emergency due to the outbreak. New York’s governor declared a state of emergency on Friday. The ads aim to mobilize resources and efforts to combat the public health threat, which is largely prevalent among men who have sex with men. It’s unclear whether federal officials will declare a public health emergency due to the outbreak. But on Tuesday, the White House announced that President Biden had appointed two longtime FEMA employees to lead the country’s response.
The World Health Organization declared the multinational outbreak of monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 23 July. It is the agency’s highest level of alert.