Monkeypox: infected person says “It hurts like hell”


  • Monkeypox is also spreading to Germany
  • But how does an infection feel? An affected person reports how she was infected
  • He doesn’t just talk about the pain, but also about why he fears stigmatization

Martin’s voice sounds agitated and exhausted at the same time. He also has smallpox in his mouth. “It hurts as hell,” he says over the phone. For two weeks he has several times high feverhis body is weak, swollen and bruised in places that make going to the bathroom torture.

Making the call is also exhausting for him, but he wants to tell his story, of the painful two weeks with monkeypox, because he feels the authority left alone and not medically well cared for. “Germany is not doing a good job,” he said, disappointed.

Monkeypox contagion: Martin is afraid of small talk

Martin moved to Berlin from the United States in the spring of 2021 in the midst of the corona pandemic. The American wanted to live closer to good German friends. The IT expert quickly got a job in a large company. For this article, the 30-year-old man would like to remain anonymous because his employer and his neighbors shouldn’t know that he is in his apartment and is speaking to the monkeypox cured. He’s afraid of stares, mean talk, and stigma, which the federal government’s homosexual commissioner, Sven Lehmann, has already warned about in relation to monkeypox.

Martin is well educated and has a demanding job. The photo of him on Whatsapp shows him smiling, brown hair, green eyes, white teeth. Martin is homosexual, he belongs to the group of men who have sex with other men. This group, known in technical jargon as “MSM” for short, is the only one in Germany to have been affected by the monkeypox virus. The virus appeared in Germany in May, according to the Robert Koch Institute, 131 cases are now known in ten federal states.

Meet the man for the first time, they have sex

To Martin’s critique German health system to understand you have to start from the beginning. Sunday evening, May 22, she goes on a date. She set up a meeting with a man she flirted with in writing for a year. He met his girlfriend, around 45 and living alone, on the “Romeo” dating app. “We met in his apartment, talked, then had sex,” she says in retrospect. “But it wasn’t an agreed sex date,” he explains, “even though it was clear from the start that we both wanted it.”

They talk for an hour, they are intimate for an hour. They both take Prep, a drug that prevents you from contracting HIV, they don’t use condoms. They try anal sex, but it doesn’t work. So they mostly kiss and have oral sex. These parts of the body are important because they will be exactly the places where smallpox will later form.

Then Martin comes home to his 55 square meter apartment, takes a shower, lies down and sleeps. Read also: Monkeypox: Spain and Portugal are the hotspots in Europe

In five days she has sex with four different men

The next day, Monday, he gets up at 8 in the morning, has breakfast and starts working from home. The next date is in the afternoon, she’s having sex again, this time with a tourist she also met through an app. The next date follows Tuesday, again Thursday. She has known men on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a little longer. When she has Thursday night after Sex showers, he notes three redness on her butt. “They looked like little pimples, but I thought it was due to the chocolate I ate the day before.”

But Saturday afternoon, 6 days after having sex with the 45-year-old, Martin suddenly had a fever, his body aches, his lymph nodes are swollen. “Then I looked at the pimples on my butt – and they were swollen.” Martin Google searches for symptoms. He suspects bad things. syphilis or monkeypox?

Monkey Pox: Begins his search for medical help

He begins his search for medical help. Drive to the nearest hospital, Vivantes am Friedrichshain. At the reception he tells about the symptoms of him. A doctor sends him to the dermatological department of the Charité. Arriving in dermatology, he should go to the emergency room, where he sits for the first time for an hour in the public waiting room. Only then is he sent to an isolated room. “In retrospect, I wonder why it took so long”, after all he wasn’t the first man monkeypox in Germany. And the virus was felt everywhere. As in our stigma comment.

It is 9:00 pm, blood and smallpox swabs are taken from his buttocks. “Finally, at 1:30, she came a nurse and she said they wanted to keep me in the hospital, by now I had fever and chills.” A urine sample follows at four. Because he doesn’t feel too bad, he prefers to go home and wait for the test results there. He signs documents which he leaves of his own free will. After 7 hours of first aid.

“Honestly, I was also afraid of what would happen to me if the doctors found out what I had. Maybe then they wouldn’t let me go?” Martin needs help, but in compensation he fears the consequences of an infection. He has also lived extensively in Mexico and Brazil, and as a gay in hospitals, his experiences have not always been good. And the partly stigmatized debate on smallpox monkeys in Germany do the rest.

“My whole body hurt, but smallpox still didn’t hurt.”

Go home by bike. There it takes Pain relievers, ibuprofen, paracetamol. “My whole body ached, but smallpox still didn’t hurt.”

Monday morning receives the Monkeypox Diagnosis. At this point she counts nine for smallpox on her buttocks, when it touches her she feels a little pain. She has a fever, chills, she can’t sleep, she’s sweating by the gallons. Friends put food in front of her door.

Two days later this comes out Department of health. “He was a friendly and nice person,” says Martin. He explains to him about the 21-day quarantine, but at least until all the smallpox is healed, and asks where he might have contracted it. Martin already knows. He has already informed all his contacts about him last week on Monday. And the 45-year-old from the “Romeo” app is also ill, his whole face covered with thick pustules. The woman in the office is satisfied with the answer. She has no further questions. “I’m actually a little shocked that she didn’t check all my contacts herself.” Martin informs her that he had sex with three other men. Fortunately, none of the three men to date have contracted the virus.

Monkeypox Tecovirimat drug hardly available in Germany

Next week is going to be bad for Martin. Friday, 11 days after the infection, he hurts his anus, checks, all full of smallpox. “When I go to the bathroom, I feel like knife wounds.” Later, any movement hurts. He stays in bed trying to read all about the virus. Martin is worried, he also suffers from Long Covid. When the pain got worse, he called an ambulance to wait two hours to be taken to the hospital. Since he can’t sit up, he goes to the hospital on an electric scooter. When he arrived at the Charité Virchow Klinikum he would have to wait in the parking lot, there was no room for him. A doctor in full protective gear comes out and gives him painkillers and cream.

He asks if he is the doctor Tecovirmat can prescribe. A drug recently approved in the EU for the treatment of monkeypox. Martin had read about it.

The doctor’s response is disappointing, unfortunately there are not enough stocks of the drug in Germany. And it is reserved for patients with a very severe course or an immunodeficiency such as HIV. There are currently only ten doses of Tecovirimat in Germany.

The Federal Ministry of Health does not order the drug Tecovirimat

It is not possible to say how many patients have already been treated with tecovirimat.

However, an investigation at the RKI and the STAKOB based there, the permanent working group of the centers of competence and treatment for diseases caused by highly pathogenic pathogens, confirms the small quantity of the drug in Germany. “In acute cases, clinics support each other – in counseling about therapy and providing drugs, if these are only available to a very limited extent, as is currently the case with Tecovirimat,” writes Dr. Michaela Niebank, specialist in internal medicine / infectiousness of the STAKOB office. “But the order of magnitude should be right.”

That Federal Ministry of Health in turn, recommends that attending physicians contact the responsible STAKOB treatment center in emergency situations. According to a spokesman for the health ministry, these in turn have individual doses and are also “familiar with the supply options in acute cases”. STAKOB, in turn, could not confirm this. It refers to the exchange of medicines between hospitals. And hospitals, in turn, have only ten cans in total in Germany.

The worst thing so far happened to Martin on the 14th day after the infection

This information does not help Martin. 14 days later the infection bleeds from the anus. This time he is so bad that he can no longer ride an electric scooter. Besides, he doesn’t want to be in a parking lot anymore. He calls the hospital. On the phone, he is told that he would normally be checked for anal bleeding, but not for monkeypox.

“It’s hard for me to believe that Germany only has ten doses of Tecovirimat,” Martin says over the phone. It is the 16th day after the infection. He is doing a little better for the first time this week. He points out, “I don’t have a mild infection.” Anyone infected with monkeypox is threatened by chaos and poor medical care. “It is very unworthy to have to endure the disease in this way. It’s an infection that can scar me on the outside for a lifetime ”. Now he also has smallpox on his shoulder, as well as those on his butt, anus and mouth, which have opened and are sore.

The Standing Vaccination Committee now recommends monkeypox vaccination for the group of men who have sex with men. Martin is also for this. “It’s a terrible infection. If I weren’t in this situation, I would go to the United States, go to a sexual health clinic and take the drug,” said Martin. Germany is poorly prepared for the monkeypox virus, at least in its case.

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