A UK man has painted a grim picture of what it is like to have monkeypox after contracting what doctors called one of the worst cases of the virus in June.
Charity worker Harun Tulunai described the debilitating symptoms of the illness in a news.com.au podcast. I have news for youbecause of which he feared for his life.
The 35-year-old initially thought he had Covid-19 due to his flu-like symptoms, which included a high fever and swollen glands. But it wasn’t until he developed a rash that he realized something was wrong.
“After a couple of days, I developed a rash all over my body, white and red, the skin basically changed color. Later I learned that it was a feverish rash. It was not a typical monkeypox rash,” Harun told host Andrew Bucklow.
Haroon, who has been living with HIV since 2016, was worried that his symptoms were due to his HIV treatment not working.
The doctors were also puzzled: the lesion on his nose was not identified as monkeypox, and the emergency room doctors only prescribed him penicillin for tonsillitis.
“[The doctors said] – Here is your penicillin, go home, rest, drink plenty of water. I had a 40-degree temperature and I was shivering, and in the heat I just layered on layers … this was for 15 days, ”he said.
Around mid-June, Harun’s health deteriorated so rapidly that he was unable to eat, drink, or swallow his own saliva due to damage to his throat.
“It was so painful. I remember, in fact, I screamed: “I can’t get help from anyone. I can’t eat. I can’t drink. I think I’m going to die,” he said.
At this stage, Harun was hospitalized.
On June 22, Harun was tested for monkeypox and tested positive four days later. Despite the diagnosis, Haroon said what happened next scared him the most.
“I have ADHD, so if you have ADHD, you want to do things in a certain order and you want to know what happens next,” he said.
“We still don’t know anything about monkeypox, because, as you know, there is a cure, but it … has not yet been proven.”
He said he didn’t know how long he would be in the hospital or when the lesions would disappear, “really drained me mentally.”
“I was in a room that didn’t even have a window that I could open. Four walls and a Freeview TV, a bathroom, and I’m not allowed to go outside or do anything,” Haroon said.
“It was so mentally draining, it was a very big unknown, and it took a huge toll on me, maybe more than an illness.”
In addition to the psychological impact, Harun also had to endure the excruciating pain of defeat.
He once said he kicked the bed while trying to swallow antibiotics, describing the pain as if it were “opening wounds” in his throat.
“The blisters came out in the hospital and my scab on my nose had its own world on my face, so it was very painful. I could feel my heart beating in my nose.”
Haroun received antiviral treatment, which is prescribed only for the most severe cases of monkeypox. Three days later, he was able to sip water again and was discharged after 11 days, and then spent another two weeks at home.
“I’m so emotional, I’m at home, I’m so happy,” Haroon said.
A charity worker has pinpointed where he contracted the virus, but wants to reassure everyone that monkeypox is not a “gay disease.”
“I got this from my sex partner. It didn’t have to be sexual intercourse or sex. I really think it was kissing on skin contact,” he said.
“It can affect anyone.”
Harun also wants to reassure people that he is not sharing his story to cause alarm, but to let people know that there are actions they can take to protect themselves.
“If you have symptoms…just watch them.” he said. “Be a good protector of your health.”
Dr. Paul Griffin, an associate professor at the University of Queensland, told podcast host Andrew Bucklow that stories like Harun’s are needed to ensure cases are not missed.
“There are a lot of really encouraging things about this infection,” he said. “We know it’s actually something that’s relatively hard to convey, so there’s nothing like Covid or the flu.
“Transmission requires direct contact with an infected fluid, and again, this is very different from Covid in that we already have vaccines for that,” he said.
“We just need to keep people informed so that we detect cases early and contain them.”
Dr. Griffin said initial symptoms include fatigue, headaches, fever and swollen glands before a rash develops.
“Most people actually get better without any intervention in about three to four weeks, so there’s a small fraction of people who get worse, but it’s actually relatively small,” he said.
Knowing risk factors, such as having sex with multiple partners, can help prevent the spread of the virus and also seek medical attention as soon as you notice symptoms.
“The main thing is just to be aware of it, to be aware of the risk factors… we have to be able to contain it with the most basic infection control principles, which is just asking these people to isolate themselves for three or four weeks.”
Originally published as ‘It hurts so much’: Man recalls horrific ordeal of monkeypox