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2 die in Chicago after contracting monkeypox, city's first fatal cases

Two people die after contracting monkeypox in Chicago
Two people die after contracting monkeypox in Chicago 00:30

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Two people have died after contracting monkeypox in Chicago, marking the city's first fatal cases of the virus, the city's Department of Public Health announced Friday.

Both of the people who died had several other health conditions – including weakened immune systems, the department said. They each received a monkeypox diagnosis more than six weeks ago, and each had been hospitalized.

The deaths of the two adults are not related to each other, the department said.

 "Our hearts go out to these individuals' families and friends," CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a news release. "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."

Further information on the cases will not be released, in the interest of confidentiality and privacy, the department said.

Deaths from monkeypox are extremely rare. Among 75,000 cases reported in the 2022 outbreak, there have been only 32 deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

"The vast majority of people with MPV who died have had other health conditions along with MPV causing severely weakened immune systems," said Dr. Arwady said in the release. "Please continue to take it seriously. If you're at risk of MPV infection, take prevention steps and get vaccinated to protect yourself and your loved ones. These measures are especially important if you have comorbidities and/or a weakened immune system."

The CDPH urges those who meet the eligibility criteria to get both doses of the MPV vaccine 28 days apart. After getting vaccinated, the CDPH urges people to go on taking precautions – especially if they are at high risk.

Monkeypox spreads through close, intimate contact, the CDPH noted.

CDPH officials said monkeypox is spread through close contact with body fluids, sores, shared bedding or clothing, kissing, coughing, or sneezing. The virus can spread from the time symptoms begin until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed (usually about 2-4 weeks). It's not yet clear if the virus can spread through saliva, semen, or vaginal fluids.

Common symptoms include rash or unusual sores resembling pimples or blisters, fever, chills, head or muscle aches, and swelling of the lymph nodes.

Doctors advise people to avoid close skin-to-skin contact with anyone who might have a rash that looks like monkeypox, and to avoid sharing food, drinks, eating utensils, bedding, towels, or clothing of someone who has the virus.

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