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July 6, 2022

What's it like to have monkeypox? One patient's 'miserable' experience.

Daily Briefing

    As monkeypox continues to spread across the United States, one patient shares his "miserable" and "painful" experience with the virus to raise awareness and urge people to get vaccinated.

    Monkeypox: The latest on the outbreak

    Monkeypox is a 'pretty miserable experience'

    According to Matt Ford, a 30-year-old video editor, he had not paid much attention to the monkeypox outbreak until a friend let him know that he may have been recently exposed to the virus.

    Ford immediately did a full body check and found some new spots that looked like pimples or ingrown hairs. He then went to a clinic to get a test, and a few days later, the test came back positive for monkeypox.

    Over the next few days, Ford said the spots he found, which turned out to be monkeypox lesions, "very quickly got bigger and would fill up," becoming "quite painful," particularly the ones in more sensitive areas.

    "More and more lesions were appearing," he said. "… And by far the worst part was the pain. I mean, to the point that I had to be prescribed narcotic painkillers just to be able to go to sleep."

    In addition to the lesions, Ford also developed flu-like symptoms, including fever, sore throat, chills, coughing, swollen lymph nodes, and night sweats. Ford's symptoms lasted around 10 days, and he is currently in isolation until his lesions are gone, which can take up to four weeks.

    Overall, Ford said his experience with monkeypox was "pretty miserable." To raise awareness of the disease and encourage others to get vaccinated, Ford recently posted a video of his experience online, with the clear message that monkeypox "sucks, and you don't want this."

    "It's become clear to me since I got it that it's spreading quickly," Ford said. "That's a big reason I'm trying to speak out and raise awareness about it."

    In addition, Ford said he hopes his video, which has been viewed about 250,000 times as of Friday, will help reduce the stigma attached to monkeypox. "There shouldn't be any stigma. It's just a bad turn of events," he said. "A lot of times I think silence is the enemy. I'm glad to be able to inform people and hope more people will be safe."

    The US expands its monkeypox vaccination campaign

    Currently, CDC has confirmed 560 cases of monkeypox across 34 states and the District of Columbia. With cases continuing to grow across the country, the Biden administration last week announced that it is increasing the availability of the monkeypox vaccine to more at-risk groups rather than just people who have had direct contact with infected patients.

    Specifically, the vaccine campaign will focus largely on men who have sex with men (MSM) who are in geographic areas where monkeypox is spreading readily. Health officials said those who have had a sexual partner diagnosed with monkeypox, as well MSM with multiple sexual partners in areas where monkeypox cases are rising, should get vaccinated.

    According to health experts, the current outbreak may be primarily affecting MSM because highly interconnected sexual networks may allow the virus to spread more easily than it would in the general population.

    During the initial vaccine rollout, HHS will immediately release 56,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine, the preferred vaccine against monkeypox, through a tiered approach to prioritize areas with the highest number of cases. So far, 32 states and jurisdictions have requested vaccines, and more than 9,000 doses, along with 300 antiviral treatments, have been sent out.

    Over the next few weeks, around 240,000 additional vaccines will be made available. In addition, a further 750,000 vaccine doses will be delivered during the summer, and 500,000 more doses will be available throughout the fall—totaling 1.6 million available doses by the end of the year.

    According to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, as more doses of the Jynneos vaccine become available, officials may consider shifting their response to a pre-exposure, instead of post-exposure, approach.

    "As soon as we have more vaccines available, we will of course continue to expand from a post-exposure prophylaxis strategy ideally to a pre-exposure prophylaxis strategy," she said. "I do think it would be wise to address that expansion at a time when we have more vaccine so we can really follow where the outbreak is densest." (Christensen, CNN, 7/1; Rozner, CBS News, 6/30; Moniuszko, USA Today, 7/2)

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