CHICAGO (CBS) — Two people have died after contracting monkeypox in Chicago, the city’s public health department announced Friday.
The two people who died had several other health issues – including weakened immune systems, the department said. They were each diagnosed with monkeypox more than six weeks ago and each has been hospitalized.
The deaths of the two adults are not related to each other, the department said.
“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these individuals,” CDPH Commissioner Dr Allison Arwady said in a press release. “Although the number of new cases of MPV has dropped significantly since the summer, it is a stark reminder that MPV is dangerous and can cause serious illness, and in very rare cases, even death.”
Further information about the cases will not be released, in the interest of confidentiality and privacy, the department said.
Deaths from monkeypox are extremely rare. Of the 75,000 cases reported in the 2022 outbreak, there were only 32 deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
“The vast majority of people with MPV who died had other health problems in addition to MPV, causing a severely weakened immune system,” Dr Arwady said in the statement. “Please continue to take it seriously. If you are at risk of MPV infection, take preventive measures 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 receive both doses of the MPV vaccine 28 days apart. After getting vaccinated, the CDPH urges people to continue to take precautions, especially if they are at high risk.
Monkeypox is spread through close, intimate contact, the CDPH noted.
CDPH officials said monkeypox is spread through close contact with bodily fluids, wounds, shared bedding or clothing, kissing, coughing or sneezing. The virus can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has completely healed and a new layer of skin has formed (usually around 2-4 weeks). It is not yet known whether the virus can be spread through saliva, semen or vaginal secretions.
Common symptoms include rashes or unusual sores that look like pimples or blisters, fever, chills, head or muscle pain, and swollen lymph nodes.
Doctors advise people to avoid close skin-to-skin contact with anyone who may have a rash resembling monkeypox and to avoid sharing food, drink, cooking utensils, bedding, towels or clothing of a person infected with the virus.