One of L.A.’s First Monkeypox Patients Describes His Experience

”It boils down to this: This shit sucks and you don’t want it,” according to monkeypox patient Matt Ford, who is currently recovering from the disease

Matt Ford, a 30-year-old “creative who acts, writes, and sings” based in West Hollywood and New York, wrote about his experience as one of Los Angeles County’s earliest monkeypox patients for Buzzfeed. By describing the disease’s progress and its side effects in great detail, he answered many questions people may have about the virus which until recently had been largely unknown in the United States.

On June 17, a friend in L.A. called Matt to tell him that he had tested positive for monkeypox and that Ford might have been exposed the previous weekend, through skin-to-skin contact. He immediately checked for lesions and found some.

Just a day later, he was symptomatic: “a fever, full-body chills, night sweats, a cough, a sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes.” These symptoms lasted for a week.

On June, Ford went to the doctor, where he tested positive. He was given a stay-at-home order via email.

Then, symptoms “intensified,” with lesions becoming so painful he couldn’t sleep through some nights. “The lesions I had already noticed in the underwear zone were becoming more intense and quite painful,” Ford wrote. “They filled with pus and became itchy. More lesions appeared on my face and random parts of my body.”

Ford took baths frequently and applied ointment to his skin: the only treatments that worked.

By Friday—a week after Ford discovered the lesions—the flulike symptoms had subsided and he felt “mostly normal.” He is waiting for the lesions to heal.

While the disease seems to affect queer communities, Ford says it is not a “gay disease.”

“From the data, this does seem to primarily affect queer men at present. It is by no means a gay disease; it can spread to anyone,” Ford told KTLA. “But at the moment, we’re being primarily affected, so I do worry that will lend itself to some stigma, as we’ve seen in other epidemics.”

He encourages public health officials to get people tested speedily and to promote vaccines.

“If you can get vaccinated, do go get vaccinated, especially if you think you’re in a demographic where you can be more easily exposed to it,” Ford said. “There’s no reason to go through this. It’s unnecessary and miserable.”

Ford also discussed his experience in a TikTok video this week.

Today, health officials said that spread via two big parties in L.A. County, according to the Los Angeles Times. Calling it “community transmission, “It’s actually they got monkeypox here in L.A. County, because it was transmitted from someone else here in L.A. County who had monkeypox,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Currently there are more than 300 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S., according to the CDC.

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