What it was like to contract monkeypox from one of DC’s first patients

Rob Short, from DC, explains what it’s like to have smallpox in monkeys. He described it as ‘extremely painful.’

WASHINGTON – Monkeypox cases continue to rise across the country, with nearly 9,500 confirmed cases nationwide. That number includes 730 confirmed cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia as of Wednesday afternoon.

Rob Short, a personal trainer from DC, tested positive for monkey smallpox in June, and described the condition as “extremely painful.”

“I wouldn’t wish that in anyone,” he said.

Short said he contracted the disease at the same time as the rest of his group of friends. He said his most painful symptoms lasted about three days.

“We all had fevers,” he said. “Flu-like symptoms, chills, sweating. I changed the sheets twice that night.”

Along with flu-like symptoms, Short said he also developed extremely painful sores on his anus.

“It was a pain in the ass,” he said. “An open wound. And every time you go to the bathroom, it feels like Satan himself is reaching inside you and saying ‘hello, you’re my puppet now.'”

Short also said he noticed the stigma attached to the disease, which continues even after recovery.

“I attended a pool party,” he said. “And I explained to people – like – you know – this is what monkeypox looks like… And the girl said – ‘get away from me. Don’t come near me. You’re sick. monkey pox.'”

Short worries this stigma could lead to violence, which we’ve seen according to police. Police report that they are looking for suspects in connection with a biased attack in the Shaw neighborhood.

According to a police report from the Metropolitan Police Department, two men were walking south on the east side of Northwest 7th Street when they were approached by suspects on August 7.

Both victims told police they were punched several times and were called “monkey smallpox”. Police say the suspects were last seen heading north on 7th Street.

Short says incidents like this show why the LGBTQ community needs to stick together and speak out against discrimination.

“I think we’re more attached to each other now than ever,” he said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the CDC is reporting 9,493 confirmed cases of monkeypox nationwide. That includes the following local numbers:

  • Washington, DC: 319
  • Maryland: 236
  • Virginia: 175

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