Ohio reports first potential monkeypox death

Ohio reported its first death associated with the monkeypox virus on Thursday.

It could also be the second confirmed death in the U.S. though other deaths are under investigation.

The Ohio Department of Health says an Ohio adult man who tested positive for the monkeypox virus has died. He did have other health conditions. The state is not reporting where the man lived.

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So far, there have been 276 cases of the monkeypox in the state, according to health department data. The vast majority of cases have been in Cuyahoga County, which has at least 140 cases. Franklin County has the next highest number, at 44 cases. Hamilton County has 14 cases while Summit County has 16.

Doses of the monkeypox vaccine are seen ready for patients during a clinic at DAP Health in Palm Springs, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.
Doses of the monkeypox vaccine are seen ready for patients during a clinic at DAP Health in Palm Springs, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.

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Deaths - as well as the state's 28 hospitalizations - remain very rare for the monkeypox disease, which typically spreads through direct contact and is not as contagious as COVID-19. Around 95% of cases have been among men, and nationally, cases have been mostly among men who have sex with men.

Most people with monkeypox recover fully within two to four weeks without the need for medical treatment, but people with weakened immune systems may be more likely to get seriously ill or die, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

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“When we look globally, there have been deaths among people who have monkeypox. The vast majority have had comorbidities with severely weakened immune systems,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff in a statement. “If you are at high risk for monkeypox, please follow the proper prevention measures and get vaccinated to protect yourself and your community. These measures are crucial to follow If you have comorbidities and/or a weakened immune system.”

Thousands of Ohioans receive monkeypox vaccine

A total of 8,301 Ohioans have gotten at least their first dose of JYNNEOS, the two-dose vaccine taken about a month apart. A vast majority of recipients live in either Cuyahoga County, with 2,178 residents who took the shot, and Franklin County, where 3,960 have been vaccinated.

As of Wednesday, at least 12,573 doses have been shipped to Ohio, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ohio is recommending medical providers follow federal recommendation splitting each dose into five doses to ensure more availability.

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For those who have taken the vaccine, maximum protection comes two weeks after the second dose, said Joseph Gastaldo, infectious disease specialist at OhioHealth, previously. But "no vaccine is 100 percent," he cautioned, with medication available for severe cases.

Titus Wu is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Monkeypox in Ohio: State reports first death from virus