INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Health on Wednesday reported the first death of an Indiana resident in which monkeypox was a contributing factor.
The individual had “multiple other health conditions” that contributed to the death, according to the state health department. IDOH officials said no other information about the patient will be provided, citing patient privacy laws.
“Although monkeypox cases in Indiana have declined significantly as a result of the availability of vaccine, it is important to remember that this disease is still circulating and can cause severe illness and death,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the family of this Hoosier, and I encourage anyone who is at risk to protect themselves by getting vaccinated.”
The IDOH has confirmed 264 monkeypox cases in Indiana since June 17, with most occurring among males ages 18 to 39, according to the department’s statewide dashboard. Nearly 29,000 cases have been confirmed in the U.S.
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, which is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. Symptoms are similar to smallpox, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. The illness typically begins with fever, headache, chills, muscle aches and exhaustion about five to 21 days after exposure. Within one to three days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash. The illness typically lasts for two to four weeks. People are considered infectious until all scabs from the rash have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
The virus primarily spreads through intimate sexual contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Person-to-person transmission is possible through skin-to-skin contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores or contaminated items, such as bedding or clothing, or through exposure to respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact.
Most people who get monkeypox recover without any serious complications or the need for medical treatment, a news releases said. However, people living with a condition that weakens the immune system, such as advanced or untreated HIV, AIDS, certain cancers, an organ transplant, or another immune deficiency disorder, may be more likely to have serious complications or need treatment, according to IDOH. In rare occasions, severe illnesses may lead to death.
IDOH officials emphasized that getting vaccinated can protect against getting monkeypox or can reduce the severity of illness in individuals who contract the monkeypox virus. Hoosiers are encouraged to contact their local health department or healthcare provider about getting vaccinated.