A Miami man who's spent more than a week in the hospital battling monkeypox is sharing his painful journey on social media in an effort to bring attention to the outbreak.
Most monkeypox patients experience only fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. But those with a more serious outbreak may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
Jonathan Araujo describes the illness as both physical and mental, and said it's been tough on him to constantly see the lesions.
"It's defeating, every time you find a new sore or see a new lesion," he said.
Araujo said he first started feeling symptoms on July 4, when he had a fever and then chills. He thought it was just a cold but then the bumps started appearing.
As they got bigger in size, Araujo suspected it was more than a cold and went to Jackson Memorial Hospital to get them checked out. That's when doctors confirmed his worst fears: it was monkeypox.
He said the lesions feel like "somebody struck a match and set fire to my skin."
Araujo believes he became infected at a night club where he was in close contact with others and may have grazed someone was unknowingly carrying the virus.
"Just be aware this is not just a sexually transmitted disease, this is an everyday, anybody disease," Araujo said. "Anyone can get it. You can get it any kind of way, touching a table surface I just touched, touching an ATM I just went to."
More than 1,000 cases has been reported in the U.S. as of Friday, with most of the infections occurring among gay men, but health officials stress that anyone can get the disease. Scientists warn that anyone who is in close physical contact with someone who has monkeypox or their clothing or bedsheets is at risk of infection, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Araujo is on day eight of quarantine and is documenting his experience on social media.
"It feels like somebody struck like a match and set fire to my skin when they get bothered or touched," he said. "I've never felt this kind of like dull pain, but then it's excruciating. Like within a split second a jolt of pain and then they itch."
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The CDC advises patients with monkeypox to stay in isolation "until all lesions have resolved, the scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed."
The current number of reported cases is likely an undercount because testing is still ramping up. U.S. officials are partnering with several large commercial testing laboratories and say they expect to be able to process 70,000 tests per week by the end of the month.
U.S. health officials are also ramping up monkeypox vaccine shipments amid growing frustration about limited access to the two-dose shot. The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that thousands more doses will soon begin shipping from Denmark after the agency completed a required inspection of the overseas plant where the shots are manufactured. The federal government purchased more than 1.1 million doses of the vaccine from Bavarian Nordic, most which are still in storage at the company's Denmark plant.