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Can you die from monkeypox? Everything you need to know about the virus

Aug. 30 marks the first possible death due to monkeypox in Texas and raises the question of how deadly the virus is

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Illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News

The first possible U.S. death due to monkeypox was reported on Aug. 30. The death of this adult is still currently under investigation, but it raises the question of how likely it is to die from the virus.

What are the risks of monkeypox?

The World Health Organization reported that between 1%-10% of people with monkeypox have died. There are two different types of monkeypox virus, Clade I and Clade II. The current type infecting populations is Clade II, specifically Clade IIb. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that over 99% of people who get the Clade IIb form of the disease are likely to survive, while Clade I has a fatality rate of 10%.

However, there are people who are more at risk to die from the disease. The CDC reports that people with weakened immune systems, a history of eczema, those pregnant or breastfeeding, and children under 8 are more likely to be seriously ill or die from monkeypox.

There have been a confirmed 15 total deaths from monkeypox in the world and a total of 49,974 cases, according to the CDC. In the United States, there have been a total of 18,416 cases so far.

There are some possible complications to the virus, including secondary skin infections, pneumonia, confusion and eye problems.

How does monkeypox spread?

The virus can spread in various ways. The WHO reported that monkeypox can spread through close contact, face to face, mouth to mouth, or mouth to skin contact. It is still under investigation if the virus can spread through air.

The disease can also spread through direct contact with body fluids, rashes and scabs. A previous Deseret News article reported that the contact has to be pretty significant in order for the disease to spread.

Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?

According to the WHO, people who were vaccinated against smallpox may have some protection against monkeypox, but there is an FDA approved vaccine for the virus. The FDA reported that the JYNNEOS vaccine is the approved prevention for monkeypox. JYNNEOS is a live virus vaccine that is also approved for smallpox. It is approved for people 18 years and older that are determined to be at high risk for the virus.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Here are some of the reported symptoms of the virus to look out for per the CDC and the World Health Organization:

  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Back pain.
  • Low energy.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Rash.
  • Skin sores.
  • Chills.
  • Respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, nasal congestion or cough.