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Health Officials Confirm First Death Due To Monkeypox In LA

Round and spherical shapes appear in gray on a white background.
A microscopic view of monkeypox virions.
(Courtesy CDC)
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Federal and local health officials have confirmed the first death of a person with monkeypox in California.

Monkeypox was first reported as the suspected cause of death last Thursday by an official with Los Angeles County's Department of Public Health.

Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the death Monday. The L.A. County resident was severely immunocompromised and had been hospitalized with the virus, according to Public Health.

"Public Health sends heartfelt condolences and wishes of healing to the family and friends mourning the loss of their loved one," said a statement released Monday.

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The agency did not release other details about the deceased person.

This is only the second death in the current U.S. outbreak linked to monkeypox, according to Dr. Rita Singhal, chief medical officer for Public Health.

The first death tied to monkeypox in the U.S. was reported Aug. 30 in Harris County, Texas.

Monkeypox In LA So Far

More than 1,800 people have tested positive with monkeypox in L.A. County. Cases in the outbreak have largely been centered among men who have sex with men, particularly those with multiple sex partners.

Health officials also announced expanded eligibility for the free monkeypox vaccine, now to include people “who are at risk for future exposures,” Singhal said last week.

L.A. County residents who self-attest to being in the following groups may get the vaccine:

  • Gay or bisexual men, or any men or transgender people who have sex with men or transgender people. 
  • People of any gender or sexual orientation who engage in commercial or transactional sex. 
  • People living with HIV, especially persons with uncontrolled or advanced HIV disease. 
  • People who had skin-to-skin or intimate contact with someone with suspected or confirmed monkeypox, including those who have not yet been confirmed by Public Health.
What questions do you have about the pandemic and health care?
Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.

Updated September 12, 2022 at 4:59 PM PDT
This story has been updated to reflect that the case of patient believed to have died from monkeypox has been confirmed.