• The patient tested positive in mid-September
  • "(I)t is important to note that the disease is still circulating," health department warns
  • Authorities are urging people at risk to get vaccinated

Health officials in New Jersey have recorded the state's first monkeypox-related death. This shows the threat still remains despite a decline in the number of cases in the state.

Monkeypox was a "contributing factor" in the death of a New Jersey resident in October, the state's department of health (NJDOH) announced Monday.

The agency did not divulge further information about the patient, citing privacy, but noted that the resident contracted the disease in mid-September and died in October. The person had a history of underlying health conditions.

This was reportedly the first death in the state linked to monkeypox.

"Cases of monkeypox have been declining over the past weeks in New Jersey," the agency said. This is evident in the state's monkeypox dashboard, which shows a steady downward trend from July and August. "However, it is important to note that the disease is still circulating, and in some cases, may cause severe illness or death."

This echoes experts' recent reminder of the persisting threat. They warn against premature declarations of victory against the disease as the threat of a possible resurgence continues to loom.

The NJDOH is urging those at risk of having severe conditions to get vaccinated. This has been made even more accessible as the agency on Monday announced the opening of three more monkeypox vaccination sites.

"While risk has remained low for the general public, it is important for individuals who may be most at risk to get vaccinated in advance of exposure," said the NJDOH. "The two-dose monkeypox vaccine can help prevent monkeypox, or reduce severity of the disease."

The state saw 751 cases of monkeypox as of Nov. 2, according to health department data. Nationally, a total of 28,730 confirmed monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases were reported as of Tuesday, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed. Certain states still continue to lead the tally, with California (5,512), New York (4,129), Texas (2,756) and Florida (2,760) logging thousands of cases each.

There were a total of 78,599 confirmed cases globally as of Tuesday – 77,650 of which in places that did not historically report monkeypox.

Illustration shows test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive