Matt Ford edits videos for a living, so it wasn’t hard for him to put together a video for TikTok. But his latest post isn’t a crazy dance or a video on how to properly peel a banana.
It was based on his own experience with monkeypox. His video has been viewed about 250,000 times as of Friday afternoon. He posted it to help educate people about the virus outbreak, encouraged people to get vaccinated, and said very clearly, “You don’t want this.”
Anyone can contract smallpox in monkeys, but “a notable portion” of the global outbreak is in gay and bisexual men, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. .
“I first became fully aware of it and noticed symptoms on Friday, June 17,” Ford told CNN following the county-ordered quarantine at his home in Los Angeles, where he will have to stay for a few more weeks until he is no longer contagious.
He was hoping to go to Pride in New York last week. “But that’s not the card,” he said.
In the video, Ford talks about how the virus spreads and shows some of his damage.
Smallpox in monkeys is spread when someone comes into direct contact with that person’s rash, scabs, or bodily fluids. It can also be spread through respiratory secretions from prolonged face-to-face contact or by touching items that have previously been in contact with the bodily fluids of an affected person, according to the CDC.
Ford said he was vaguely aware of the monkeypox outbreak via Twitter, but didn’t know how close he was to the outbreak until a friend contacted him to let him know. may have been exposed.
Ford said it immediately began a full body check.
“I noticed a few pimples that I hadn’t noticed before,” says Ford.
Ford said a doctor took a swab and a few days later the test results came back positive for monkeypox.
In fact, the test merely confirmed what he had new, Ford said. The pimples he found didn’t look like pimples anymore.
“They get bigger very quickly and they fill up,” he says, and they are painful, especially those in more sensitive areas.
He said he also felt like he had the flu.
People with monkeypox may experience fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and feel tired. He said he also suffered from night sweats, sore throat and cough.
Some of the wounds were too painful, so he went back to the doctor, and the doctor gave him painkillers.
“It really helped because I was finally able to sleep through the night,” says Ford. “But even the painkiller didn’t completely paralyze it. It just made it more bearable so I could go back to sleep.”
In the video, Ford speaks simply as he looks directly into the camera and warns others.
“Hi, my name is Matt. I have monkeypox, this sucks and you don’t want it,” Ford told viewers.
Giving a loop around his 25 wounds, he points to his face, arms and points on his abs.
“These are really not cute,” he said for emphasis.
While the disease is more common in Central and West Africa, this current outbreak has hit countries that have seen very few cases, if any, in the past.
As of Friday, there were 460 probable or confirmed cases in the United States alone, according to the CDC. The Los Angeles County Department of Health’s monkeypox panel says it has 35 cases.
The county confirmed in an email to CNN on Thursday that it will issue a quarantine order for people who test positive for monkeypox. Ford said he received his notice via email from the county on June 24.
Last Friday, LA County confirmed that some of the cases were between gay and bisexual men. Some men have attended some major events. The county said it has been working with organizers to notify attendees of potential exposure.
The county has provided the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine to people who have been in contact with others who have contracted monkeypox. This week, the Biden administration announced steps to ramp up its response to the outbreak, detailing a plan to provide more vaccines and testing to those most at risk.
Vaccine supplies are limited, but authorities say they will expand access in areas with the highest likelihood of transmission. It said 56,000 doses will be made available immediately, with 296,000 doses of the vaccine in the next few weeks, and an additional 750,000 over the summer. On Friday, the authorities ordered an additional 2.5 million doses.
Ever since Ford first told friends he had monkeypox, others have let him know that they too have had it.
Concerned that not enough people knew about it, Ford had the idea to make a TikTok video and share it.
“It’s become clearer to me since I understood that it was going viral,” Ford said. “That’s the big reason I’m trying to speak out and raise awareness about it.”
He said the reaction to the video was “amazing”. He was encouraged because several people had told him they didn’t know about it before, and they thanked him for spreading the word.
Ford also hopes the video can help end the stigma attached to the disease.
“There shouldn’t be any discrimination,” Ford said. “It was just a bad event.”
“A lot of times I think silence is the enemy,” added Ford. “I’m happy to be able to keep everyone informed and hope many will be safe.”