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Gay man with monkeypox reveals symptoms and lesions in viral video

Matt Ford talks about monkeypox
Matt Ford talks about his monkeypox infection (Photo: Matt Ford)

A man with monkeypox has seen a TikTok video in which he shares his experiences go viral.

Matt Ford is a video maker and actor who splits his time between New York and Los Angeles.

In a TikTok video, in which he reveals his diagnosis, he says, “This shit sucks and you don’t want it.”

@jmatthiasford sry the sound was too appropriate #monkeypox #monkeypoxvirus #monkeypoxoutbreak #monkeypoxvaccine #CDC #WHO #greenscreen #fyp #fypシ ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

Monekypox has been around for decades but usually only affects people in central or western Africa. In May, outbreaks were identified in UK and other parts of Europe. It has since spread to the US, where there have been over 300 cases. It is disproportionately affecting gay and bisexual men.

Related: International Mr Leather event in Chicago linked to monkeypox cases

Monkeypox is mainly spread by direct skin contact between individuals. There’s an incubation period of 1-2 weeks. Those affected usually develop sores, lesions and scabs that are infectious. It can also be spread through contaminated clothing and linen.

Ford, who is gay, told Buzzfeed, “On Friday, June 17 … I received a call from a friend in LA who informed me that he had tested positive for monkeypox and that I might have been exposed the weekend prior via skin-to-skin contact. Sure enough, I checked myself for spots and noticed a couple of lesions in the underwear zone.”

In his video, Ford goes on to show the spots on his face, arms, hands and torso. He says he’s counted more than 25 lesions: “They’re really not cute.”

He says he has some in more sensitive areas, which tend to be more painful. Because of this, he had to get painkillers from his doctor to help him get to sleep.

As well as the spots, he had a cough, fever, sore throat and other flu-like symptoms. His infection was confirmed when swab samples were sent to the the LA County Department of Public Health.

He said he was making a video because he’d earlier posted a tweet revealing he had the infection, which had gone viral. He wanted people to know what it was actually like to have the virus.

He advised people to try and get vaccinated, if they get the opportunity.

“You do not want this shit. I cannot over-emphasize that.”

Just prior to New York Pride last weekend, the city’s health department issued a 1,000 doses of vaccine to high-risk groups (i.e. gay men), via a clinic in Chelsea. All the appointment slots were booked up within hours and men queued around the block for walk-ins.

On Tuesday, the White House issued details of plans to roll out more vaccines across the US.

The administration said it plans to allocate 296,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine over the coming weeks. It is currently the only Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine specifically for monkeypox.

It said in a statement, “56,000 of which will be allocated immediately. Over the coming months a combined 1.6 million additional doses will become available.”

Related: Six gay/bi men die of meningococcal disease, CDC urges vaccination

Monkeypox is usually a mild, self-limiting illness, and most people will recover within weeks. However, the deadliest variant of the virus can be fatal for up to one in ten of those infected.

The form of the virus currently circulating is believed to be milder, with a fatality rate of less than 1 percent.

Anyone who feels unwell and notices an unusual rash is advised to seek medical help.

Monkeypox lesions
Monkeypox lesions (Images via UK Health Security Agency)

In the UK, there have been over 1,000 confirmed cases of Monkeypox, mainly among gay and bisexual men.

One of the country’s top public health doctors, Prof Kevin Fenton, told the BBC yesterday than anyone who thinks they may have any of the symptoms of monkeypox not to go out to any big gatherings – particularly Pride in London, which takes place today.