Harris County resident diagnosed with monkeypox dies; undetermined what role virus played in death, officials say

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo providing updates on monkeypox.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed the first death of a person diagnosed with monkeypox in Texas. The patient, who died Sunday, was an adult resident of Harris County who was severely immunocompromised. The case is under investigation to determine what role, if any, monkeypox played in the death.

“Monkeypox is a serious disease, particularly for those with weakened immune systems,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS Commissioner. “We continue to urge people to seek treatment if they have been exposed to monkeypox or have symptoms consistent with the disease.”

“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,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said.

The county judge said they immediately released the news about the person’s death, when the case was still only “presumptive positive,” to err on the side of transparency.

The department has been collaborating with Harris Health System, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Harris County Public Health.

“We continue our work to control the monkeypox outbreak in our community and build healthier and stronger,” said HCPH Director Barbie Robinson.

No further information about the person will be shared at this time to respect the family’s privacy.

If you or a loved one is suspected of being exposed to monkeypox, please contact your healthcare provider.

If you have questions regarding monkeypox testing, vaccinations and other guidance, please call the monkeypox hotline at (832) 927-0707 or visit the HCPH monkeypox guidance web page at www.hcphtx.org/monkeypox.

About Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease that includes a painful rash, which may look like pimples or blisters, often with an earlier flu-like illness. Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that are transmitted between species, from animals to humans (or from humans to animals and humans to humans).

Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact including:

● Direct and/or sexual contact with monkeypox rash, sores, or scabs from a person with monkeypox.

● Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by a person with monkeypox.

● Contact with respiratory secretions, through kissing or prolonged face-to-face contact.

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within two weeks of exposure to the virus, and within one to three days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, people will develop rashes or sores.

Other initial symptoms linked to monkeypox include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills or exhaustion

Monkeypox is a preventable disease that spreads through close contact with an infected person. There are things everyone should do to help prevent the spread of monkeypox:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with someone with a new, unexplained rash.
  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact in large crowds where people are wearing minimal clothing, such as nightclubs, festivals, raves, saunas, and bathhouses.
  • Do not share cups, utensils, bedding or towels with someone who is sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.