In Colorado, at least two women have come down with monkeypox, and it was "casually" transmitted! Casually? Yes, possibly by bug bites, sitting in contaminated chairs, or something I’ve not thought of. One woman has been officially diagnosed with monkeypox (MP); the other is still awaiting formal confirmation (13 days after getting the test!).
The medical establishment has not been readily accessible, nor prompt to address the problems of these women. They have contacted different facilities and doctors over the past month, so this failure is apt to be medical-system wide. I personally know one of the women and can vouch for her integrity, and she vouches for the integrity of the second.
You might think, "How come casual transmission of monkeypox isn’t being addressed in the media or by the CDC? Why are you alerting to this possibility?’ I really don’t know, but I was the first scientist to document the harmful health effects of secondhand tobacco smoke. Yesterday, the CDC admitted it botched its Covid and monkeypox responses—i.e., owning millions of doses of the MP vax, but not having them “bottled for distribution” so they can be used (NY Times, Aug. 3)!
Since their stories have been posted, I am going to reproduce them in large part so you can see why non-gays should be concerned about the epidemic spreading through male homosexual sex. At the very least, the testimonies of these women should encourage you to take precautions to avoid bug bites, wash your hands after touching public surfaces, and wear clothing that might protect you from potentially contaminated chairs or other surfaces with which you come in contact.
What follows is a long set of posts and interviews, but if you can stand "raw data," plunge ahead.
The first woman’s post:
I got Monkeypox!
After our trip to Leadville, CO, I woke up one day with a painful scratch on the back of my knee. It scabbed up by the next day, and seemed very strange.
The next day, I had another one, plus what looked like 6 ingrown hairs on my thigh.
I thought I was getting bug bites along with ingrown hairs. They seemed unusual, but on the other hand, what's unusual about getting bug bites in the summer?
More and more bites kept popping up, and I mentioned it to a friend. She said, "Maybe it's Monkeypox." I thought, "Nah. Isn't that a disease for gay men? Or an STI?" But then it kept nagging at me. It DID seem like some kind of pox.
That friend later sent me a Facebook post written by a woman in Denver—not sexually active (certainly not a gay man). She tested positive, and her story sounded exactly like what I was experiencing. She's the reason I'm writing my story for you all now. I tried so hard to find more stories to help me figure out what was going on. [The post she refers to is below as well].
I called around and found out that an urgent care in town would run a test for me. …They really didn't take me seriously. I just didn't fit the demographic for this disease, and I don't think they'd seen any cases yet. They had me sit in the waiting room with everyone else, even though I made it clear why I was there. I was masked up and had two bandages covering every pox-spot, plus long pants. (My spots are all on my right leg and hip, with one lone exception on my arm. I now think that I spread them around my leg by shaving.)
When it was my turn, they took me back to the examination room. There were two nurses, both wearing masks. The first thing I said to them was, "I'm in here this afternoon for monkeypox, in case you want to go put on PPE or something," but they didn't. They left me with a disposable pair of shorts to put on.
Next a PA came in, with gloves and a mask. He asked me a couple of questions and looked from across the room at my bandaged-up leg. After a bit, he asked me to remove a couple of bandages so he could see.
Guys, the spots had gotten really bad. Very large, very painful. Like large, infected blisters. The PA took a quick look from across the room and immediately stood up and said, "I'm going to go get PPE and test you for monkeypox. This is very concerning." I know he ran out to look up the procedure. He came back in all properly covered up and took pictures. That was exciting. I had to remove every bandage and pose for the camera. In the end, he escorted me out the back of the building, and I did the walk of shame to my car.
I haven't actually gotten my test results yet. So maybe I'm jumping to conclusions to say I have monkeypox, but every description is right on. Unfortunately, since I don't have results yet, I can't get a hold of the antiviral called Tpoxx that everyone recommends.
The only instructions the PA gave me were to "isolate, isolate, isolate." I came home, set up camp in my bedroom, and have been isolating from everyone –my whole family [my husband] has taken on every other responsibility for the family.
How did I get it? I believe I got it by sitting on a chair while wearing shorts that someone else sat in with a sore on their leg. I have no proof of that, but interestingly, the lady in Denver who posted about it last week said she thought she got it from wearing shorts and sitting on a chair in an allergy clinic. We both came to those conclusions separately. (Maybe it's time to switch to pants, everyone.)
Is it very contagious? I believe that it spreads through contact with the pox, or fabric that has been in contact with a spot. I still keep every single one covered up with two layers of bandages plus pants. I sanitize my hands often, not wanting to spread my spots more, and wear gloves if I have to leave my room. I keep my distance from everyone. I keep my laundry (including towels) separate and use hot water. Has my family caught it? No, they haven't! I'm so glad. I wouldn't wish this on anyone.
What are the spots like? There are sort of different kinds. I usually find the new ones because of an intense, focused itch. They look like pimples, but pop if you scratch them and seem unexpectedly wet. (Sorry) Some get very large and look like infected blisters. The large ones take very long to heal. So far, I think it will be at least 2 weeks.
Is it painful? Yes. Those large spots feel incredibly deep, like they are infecting my muscles. They are healing very slowly and are disgusting and painful. I can't imagine if I had this on my face.
Is there any treatment? It seems like I'm stuck with over the counter treatments or home remedies for now. I hope to get the Tpoxx antiviral when the diagnosis is official. I put Neosporin on the spots that need to heal; and I just started self-medicating with Benadryl, based on my friend's stories about spider bites and Benadryl. No sign of whether that's working. Also, my pain was much worse after I took a solo walk yesterday, so I decided to stay in bed with my legs elevated to promote healing. (I looked up instructions for "skin ulcers.") My pain is level 2-3 when I'm in bed and 7-8 when I get up.
Did I get sick with flu or cold symptoms? Only barely. Congestion and sneezing. Very mild. When can I get back to normal life? After every spot is fully healed. I have 16 spots: four are large and painful (the size of a nickel), and maybe 10 have healed completely. I still get new spots almost every day. Today, I got three new ones. I think it will take at least one more week to get healed. Maybe 2.
From my email interview with her on August 14:
As you saw, I still don’t have a positive test result. [My city] doesn’t (or didn't) have testing facilities set up yet. There were some in other parts of Colorado, but I didn’t feel up to travel. I…contacted an urgent care, which said they would see me and test me if they deemed it appropriate. They did test me at that facility, and then sent me home to "isolate, isolate, isolate." They’ve called the lab since to try to access my results. They were told they would likely get results in 2 weeks. I called the lab myself twice and was told I would just have to wait for results. …My best guess is that I was exposed to Monkeypox on a family vacation between July 17-20 in a small mountain town in Colorado in the mountains where we stayed at a hostel with many Colorado Trail through-hikers. My first spot was behind my knee, and for that reason I believe I was in contact with an item carrying the infection in that area. My second spot was on the back of my thigh. My conjecture is that someone had an open sore on their leg and sat on that chair with shorts on; and then I came along later with shorts on and a little shaving-cut on my own leg and was infected. I have no proof of this. The only thing I do know is that I haven't had any "prolonged physical contact" (skin-to-skin) with anyone except for my husband since that trip, and he doesn't have any signs of monkeypox, so I must have been infected another way.
Why do you think it was likely at this location and situation rather than other places on the same day?
I believe I was infected when I sat on a chair outside the hostel. That was the only public chair at the hostel that I sat on. It could have happened in a restaurant or on a bench, but I thought through-hikers would be more likely to have unexplained infections that they mistook for a mosquito bite.
It was a metal chair outside on grass, no cover. I sat in it for about 30 minutes, twice, over the course of our stay. I didn't notice any moistness.
Around the same time or other times on the same day, were you wearing shorts while you sat in other locations?
Yes, I had been wearing shorts pretty much daily until I had about 3 unexplained spots. During that time, with shorts on, I sat in one restaurant and a church seat here. Then, when my friend suggested monkeypox, I covered every spot in bandaids and wore pants every day until now.
What was the date (or the approximate date) the 2nd woman discovered her monkeypox?
She noticed her first spot around the week of July 22 [e.g., ~July 17-23, for both women], but she was unsure of the specifics.
Is she still ill?
Yes, she still is getting new spots, but hers haven't been as big or as painful as mine, from what I understand. (I believe mine were exacerbated by restrictive clothing and sweat.) The 2nd woman is 30's?, single, not sexually active. Active lifestyle (me too).
I'd like to give you a timeline:
July 17-20—when I think I contracted monkeypox
July 22—when I saw/felt the first spot. It itched and stung a little. I thought it might be a bug bite or a small cut. [e.g., perhaps 3-7 days incubation?]
July 23—I had 6-7 new spots. There was one on the back of my thigh and the rest were on the front of my right thigh, in my "lap."
July 25—my friend suggested that I might have monkeypox, and I started covering my spots with bandaids and wearing pants. I felt fine. I continued on with regular life, but made sure to always wear pants.
August 5—my first spot on my arm. This is when I decided to go to the urgent care to get tested. I felt mildly congested. I started isolating on this day. I kept exercising and walking my dog alone.
August 5-10—Spots were very painful. (But not so much that I needed pain medication.)
August 11—I woke up on the 11th feeling like a new person. I felt like the infection had cleared.
Present: No new spots. Old ones are slowly healing. Still isolating. Now, it's a matter of waiting for all the spots to be healed with all new skin. I think it will take about a week before I can go out into the world again without infecting others.
There is very little understanding of this disease. I researched everything I could find online and made careful observations so I could help my friends know more. Based on my experience, I believe that it spreads through the infected fluids in the spots. I was shaving when the spots first started appearing, and they spread. I have areas that touch together when I bend my body (i.e., the back of my thigh and my calf; and the bottom of my abdomen and the top of my thigh), which all have matching spots exactly where they touch. One more thought: My husband never did catch it. We slept in the same bed until 8/5, and had close contact, but my spots were always covered. I think that's the key.
The second woman posted the following on Facebook July 31:
I tested positive for monkeypox. Thankfully, I have a mild case, but I have no idea how I contracted it. Sometime last week [July 18-23?], possibly earlier (I don’t recall the exact date because I thought it was insignificant at the time), I got two bug bites. One on my right hip and one on my left calf. They itched like crazy but, I figured, that’s summertime for you. I tried to ignore them.
A few days later, I got a pimple on my sternum. Not a normal location for me to break out and it looked ready to pop, so I popped it. It didn’t quite act like a normal pimple and acted more like a bug bite, so I wondered if I accidentally popped a bug bite. Oops.
A few more days later, I woke up and had a few more bumps develop on my stomach. More bug bites? I looked at the first bug bites and saw that they had scabbed over and developed a red wheal around them. I started to be suspicious. Could this somehow be monkeypox?
I checked the CDC site for more information and looked at pictures. I didn’t have marks of the severe cases that are being reported but mine looked similar to the examples on the CDC site. They looked like chickenpox and itched like them, too. But I didn’t have any of the other symptoms that are hallmark signs of monkeypox. And I wasn’t a man having sex with other men, as 99% of cases have been. But what the hell was this? I hadn’t switched any detergents, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, body wash. If the first two hadn’t scabbed over the way they did, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. [personal stuff]
The virtual doctor looked at the images and, because I had no other symptoms and have not been sexually active, he determined it was likely some sort of contact dermatitis and prescribed creams to address the itchiness. I asked if he thought it could be monkeypox at all, and I was dismissed. He said it really didn’t look like monkeypox and quickly added that he also couldn’t rule it out, and if I wanted to be tested, I’d have to contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
At the time, CDPHE listed three locations that could see people with a rash, two of which were sexual health clinics and the last one was located 4 hours away. I called the one closest to me, where I spent hours trying to talk to someone that knew anything about where I could be tested. At this location, I was transferred between immunizations, infectious diseases, sexual health, over and over. A nurse called me several times to ask about my symptoms and to gather history and had to call me back after discussing with a supervisor about testing me. I was finally told that they would not be able to help me other than performing a standard STI screening which would not detect monkeypox. They recommended I make an appointment at their regular clinic, where the soonest appointment was late September. But they assured me that any PCP should be able to perform a test.
I tried calling around other clinics to see if they could see a new patient and test for monkeypox and appointments were either out to October and/or they stated they could not test for monkeypox and that I should contact CDPHE. I told them that I was directed to a PCP from CDPHE.
I was finally able to get an appointment with a PCP that could get me in the next day, and they let me know they could likely do a monkeypox test. The person taking my information assured me that it was just a blood test, and they could take a sample if they thought it could be monkeypox. I told them that the CDC says the only way to test is to swab a lesion, not a blood test. They said, oh, we can do that. I wasn’t feeling very confident.
They messaged me a short time later and let me know they canceled my appointment, and that I needed to contact another location listed on the CDPHE to get tested. I wanted to cry and scream out of frustration at this point. Why was this so hard? How come no one knew anything and no one seemed to talk to each other?
I called the other location listed on the CDPHE site (the last one that wasn't 4 hours away), and they scheduled an appointment for the next day. Shortly after confirming this appointment, a nurse called me back to talk to me again about my symptoms and history. There was hesitation on whether or not they would test me because I didn’t have any other symptoms. She noted that even if they took a sample, the state may opt to not test it. She needed to discuss with a supervisor to see if I should keep my appointment.
She did let me know that my insurance wasn’t accepted there, and due to my income, I would be 100% responsible for all costs. Great. She called me back and told me to come into the clinic for my appointment.
I got to my appointment early the next morning and checked in normally. Then I was ushered to an isolation room to wait. A nurse called the phone in the office, where she took down my history and symptoms for about 25 minutes. She then told me she would be coming in shortly but needed to get into PPE so it would take a while. About 10-15 minutes later, she entered wearing a gown, shoe covers, double mask, and a face shield. She checked over my entire body and noted the bumps, which I had around 10 at the time. I asked her for clarification if the state could choose not to test, and she said that testing would be up to her discretion.
After looking at the bumps, she opted to test. Relief. She took a dry swab and took two samples from my oldest, scabbed-over bumps to be sent off for testing. Another nurse came in after to take my vitals, where I had a low grade fever. This was around the time where I realized I was having minor body aches.
The total cost of my visit was around $200. I was sent home and told that I would find out the results in 48 hours. That was Wednesday [July 27]. On Friday, I received a call from a representative from the CDPHE, who confirmed that I had tested positive. I spent an hour on the phone discussing my whereabouts, my sexual activity, any people I had extended close contact with so that she could reach out to them. These people could get on "the list" to get the vaccine if they wanted to, but these were limited to those on this exclusive list and by appointment only. I asked some questions about next steps, and she openly admitted that they weren’t sure because this was new to everyone and there just wasn’t a lot of data. But they said I was to isolate until all lesions have completely healed with new skin underneath, and I needed to keep them covered until then.
On Saturday [July 29], the clinic I was tested at called me and told me that the CDPHE would be calling me. I let them know the state had already spoken to me the day before. She asked if I had any idea how I got it, and I really don’t. She also mentioned that if she had been the nurse that saw me, she might not have tested me because I didn’t have any other symptoms.
As of today, I am still developing new lesions. Typically, about 1-3 new ones each day, but Friday I had 4-5 new ones. I have a total of maybe 20 at this point. They are mostly on my stomach and legs with only a few on my shoulder and neck area. None on my hands, face, or genitals, the most common areas that these lesions appear according to the CDC. They go through phases of being intensely itchy, sometimes with this going away and coming back again. I have body aches, headache, and fatigue. I have not been sexually active or had close extended contact with anyone. No one else I know has symptoms or a rash. No sore throat, no swollen lymph nodes. Literally, no other indicators that this could be monkeypox, other than this unexplained rash.
The problem is that, as a ciswoman and with the current narrative that this is only a problem for the gay men community, it was incredibly difficult to get tested. "Most" people develop symptoms first before the rash. "Some" people get just a rash. Some people get one to two lesions, some get many. The only way to get tested is if you have a rash, so some people have had to feel miserable until they could get tested, if they can get tested at all. There is a lot of denial that this is affecting more than the gay men community. It is possible that it can present differently depending on how it was contracted, or that it may just present differently on men and women. This is very new outside of Africa, and we are still learning but it is very difficult to gain new information if we refuse to look for it.
Testing protocol is gradually changing but you may have to really advocate for yourself to get tested. While there haven’t been many reported deaths related to monkeypox, these lesions can develop in the mouth, making it painful to eat, or on your genitals or anus. Shitting glass has been a common descriptor for people going through this. So while the chances of dying are quite low, I don’t wish "shitting glass" on anyone and hope that people pay attention and are vigilant in checking over their body. People are begging for pain medication and some are resorting to literal opioid alternatives, which still may not lessen the pain.
There isn’t approved treatment for this (though it may get emergency approval soon), but lesions can last for weeks. Again, while you may not die, it may be a struggle and financial burden if you have children that need to be taken care of or other family members or have a job that requires you to go in person. If you have pets, you need to find someone else that can take care of them because you may give it to them.
I guess the point of this is not to scare people, but to trust your gut and keep an eye out for random rashes. I was told over and over that I was a very low risk and no one thought I had it, but here we are. I have avoided COVID for over two years as a generally cautious person that still wears an N95 in indoor public spaces, but I somehow managed to get monkeypox. Testing needs to be more widely accessible and the media focus needs to stop perpetuating the narrative that this is only a big problem for the gay community, though it certainly is a high risk factor. It shouldn’t be the only determining factor for testing. Testing shouldn’t cost $200.
Notice the similarities of women living 80 miles apart. Something is rotten in Denmark.
The FDA just issued (Aug.12) its recommendations regarding monkeypox and the blood supply. It “does not recommend that blood establishments ask donors additional, specific questions about possible exposure to monkeypox virus [and] …does not recommend using laboratory diagnostic tests to screen blood donors for monkeypox virus.” Instead, blood banks should make sure “that donors have a normal temperature,” and answer questions about their health, that, if answered truthfully, should “identify individuals” “at greatest risk for” monkeypox infections.
Is the FDA trying to protect the citizenry from the virus or LGBTs from recriminations? Gays have managed to catch and spread this virus starting from mid-May of 2022. Indeed, gays have spread it to such a degree that instead of monkeypox, gaypox would be more accurate. But "gaypox" would fix attention on gays’ reckless promiscuity and testing for the virus in blood donations would suggest the FDA moved too quickly to drop the general ban against gays donating blood (for which I campaigned) enacted in 1985. So instead of following its usual attempt to follow the "precautionary principle," it is doing what it can to protect gays’ politically.
Now is a good time to put on long pants when venturing to public places you might sit! Also, be especially careful of bug bites, and be aware when you touch public surfaces.
Legalizing homosexuality because it is "normal and healthy" has led to many unforeseen consequences.© Paul Cameron
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