NEW YORK (WPIX) – Two people in New York City, two in Chicago and one person in Maryland have died after contracting monkeypox, health officials said Friday, one day after Nevada officials reported a death.
“We are deeply saddened by the two reported deaths and our hearts go out to the individuals’ loved ones and community,” a spokesperson with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said. “Every effort will be made to prevent additional suffering from this virus through continued community engagement, information-sharing and vaccination.”
New York City was the epicenter of the monkeypox outbreak in the United States, but cases have sharply declined since the summer months.
New York City averaged more than 70 new cases each day during the peak of the outbreak in July, according to health department data. The city has been averaging just around five new cases each day in October.
In the Maryland death, the person who died was immunocompromised, resulting in a severe case, according to the health department.
“Human monkeypox is still circulating and can cause severe illness and death,” MDH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Dr. Jinlene Chan said in a news release. “If you are eligible, such as being immunocompromised or at-risk, the best way to protect yourself against serious illness from MPX is by getting vaccinated.”
Also on Friday, two Chicago residents died in unrelated cases after they were diagnosed six weeks ago and ultimately hospitalized.
“Our hearts go out to these individuals’ families and friends,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “Though the number of new MPV cases has declined substantially since summer, this is a stark reminder that MPV is dangerous and can cause serious illness, and in very rare cases, even death.
The announcements come one day after health officials in Nevada confirmed a monkeypox-related death in a patient over 50 years of age. That person also had preexisting conditions.
“This is a tragic situation, and our sympathies are with his family and friends,” said Dr. Fermin Leguen, District Health Officer for the Health District.
Most people who contract monkeypox are not hospitalized and they recover on their own, health officials said. People who do die from monkeypox typically have pre-existing conditions, according to Northwell Health Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena.
“Anyone can get and spread [monkeypox]. The current cases are primarily spreading through sex and other intimate contact among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM); transgender people; gender-nonconforming people; and nonbinary people,” the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website states.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, there have been 27,884 cases of monkeypox in the United States as of Friday afternoon.
Monkeypox can spread through close, personal contact, often from skin-to-skin contact, according to the CDC. Objects, fabric or surfaces can also transmit the virus. Symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure with the illness typically lasting 2-4 weeks.