The first US monkeypox patient to come forward is an actor from Los Angeles

The first US monkeypox patient to go public with his battle with the tropical virus has criticized health officials for “lackluster” work in testing for the virus, which has left many cases undiagnosed.

Matt Ford, a freelance actor who splits his time between Los Angeles and New York, has spoken out to warn people that the disease “sucks” and that they should take it “seriously”.

He blasted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for their poor testing efforts, saying it took officials three days to diagnose his illness, at which point he “already knew” what they would say.

Revealing his diagnosis to Buzzfeed, Ford said he caught the virus after having “skin-to-skin contact” with another patient.

Matt Ford, from Los Angeles, is the first patient to come forward to talk about his monkeypox diagnosis. He is pictured above with three spots due to the virus on his face

The actor and writer, who describes himself as a “proud and openly gay man”, revealed he first noticed stains in and around his “underwear area”, which told him that he had caught the virus.

Over the next few days, they spread to the rest of her body, including her face, arms, hands, and abdomen.

In total, he counted 25 points and said after appearing that they had started to “fill with pus” and were itchy. Several – especially in the “sensitive area” – became so painful that they kept him awake at night without taking painkillers.

“I think in total I counted 25 and there are also some in more sensitive areas which tend to be the most painful. They are so painful I had to go to my doctor to get painkillers just to be able to sleep, really painful.

Ford also began to suffer from flu-like symptoms in the early stages, ranging from fever, chills, night sweats and cough.

He is now self-isolating at home with most symptoms largely gone, but will stay there until the spots have healed and the scabs fall off.

When he spotted the first symptoms on June 17, US cases of monkeypox had just jumped into triple digits. But many scientists warned it was likely an “undercount” because the CDC was doing so few tests each day.

The CDC was performing about 60 monkeypox tests a day last week, leaving it unable to stay on top of the virus. But it has now sent more swab kits to private labs in a bid to increase testing to tens of thousands a day.

Ford showed monkey pox spots on his stomach

Above, spots on Ford's arm.  About 25 in total, he said, had broken out all over his body

Ford showed spots on his stomach (left) and arm (right). There were about 25 in total, he said, that had erupted all over his body

Ford said he took painkillers because one of the spots around his

Ford said he took painkillers because one of the spots around his “underwear area” was causing so much pain he couldn’t sleep. Pictured above is her arm with warning signs of monkeypox

Slamming the CDC’s virus tracking on BuzzFeed, Ford said, “Many friends and acquaintances [have] reached out to say they had it too or had been exposed.

Matt Ford, pictured above before contracting monkeypox.  He says he lives in Los Angeles and New York

Matt Ford, pictured above before contracting monkeypox. He says he lives in Los Angeles and New York

“While it was reassuring to know that I was not alone, it also made me fear that the cases were seriously underreported.”

He added in a TikTok video: “According to my doctor…the CDC is doing a really lackluster job of tracking the number of actual cases.”

‘[This is] due to a lack of testing and generally not being on top.

Ford is the first American monkeypox patient to come forward and be featured in a national publication.

Describing his symptoms, he said: “You can see these [spots] on my face, these happily heal the fastest.

“And then it’s on my arms and my hands that you can see – they’re really not cute. I have one on my stomach here. And these are just a few of those on my body.

A day after being warned that he had been exposed to the tropical disease, Ford said he started experiencing flu-like symptoms that led him to see doctors.

Doctors took a swab on Monday June 20, but only managed to get a diagnosis the following Thursday, the 23rd, when he “already knew” he was infected.

A nurse then began monitoring him daily by phone, and he was also ordered to stay home until all his symptoms cleared.

America has now recorded 351 cases of monkeypox.  But scientists fear there are many more infections in the country that have yet to be diagnosed.

America has now recorded 351 cases of monkeypox. But scientists fear there are many more infections in the country that have yet to be diagnosed.

Ford is pictured above showing spots that appeared due to the disease on his face

Ford shows patches of monkeypox

Ford is pictured above showing spots that appeared due to the disease on his face. He made a video for social media to reveal his diagnosis

WHO warns ‘sustained’ spread of monkeypox puts vulnerable groups at risk

The World Health Organization has said “sustained transmission” of monkeypox around the world could see the virus start moving into high-risk groups, such as pregnant women, immunocompromised people and children.

The WHO said on Wednesday it was investigating reports of infected children, including two cases in the UK, as well as following up on reports in Spain and France. None of the cases in children were serious.

The virus has now been identified in more than 50 new countries outside of countries in Africa where it is endemic. Cases are also rising in those countries, the WHO said, calling for stepped up testing.

“I am concerned about sustained transmission as this would suggest the virus is becoming established and could be moving into high-risk groups including children, the immunocompromised and pregnant women,” the head of the agency said. WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Another patient, based in Chicago, also announced his diagnosis on social media, but chose to remain anonymous, using the handle “thatgaydoctor”.

Medical literature warns that a person can transmit monkeypox virus as long as they show signs. They can only be declared clear when their spots have crusted over and fallen off.

Ford said he started taking frequent baths and painkillers to help ease the pain from his spots, but it was only “means” to help him.

The symptoms started to subside about a week after they first appeared, he said, but he is now waiting for the last scabs to heal.

The CDC has faced repeated criticism for its testing regime, which many doctors initially warned was discouraging doctors from ordering the tests.

The laborious process requires that a patient’s sample is first tested for an orthopox virus – the family of viruses that includes monkeypox – at a local laboratory. If the result is positive, the sample is then sent to the CDC for confirmation.

Critics say the process also requires clinicians to report suspected cases to health services, which decide whether they meet the criteria to be checked for orthopox. It may also involve calling public helplines and answering detailed questionnaires, which can be slow and tedious, deterring doctors from ordering tests.

Health officials were taking about 10 monkeypox swabs a day when the outbreak began, The Washington Post reported.

That number had risen to 60 a day last week, but remained well below the number needed as the outbreak continued to grow.

America has recorded 351 cases of monkeypox so far, with another 45 spotted in the past 24 hours. New York and California are facing the biggest outbreaks.

But experts fear this is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, with many other infections in the community going undetected.

Experts say that with the rash-causing virus spreading under the radar, it could well become an ‘entrenched’ sexually transmitted disease in the population, as warning signs can easily be missed.

Dr Jay Varma, an epidemiologist at Weill Cornell Medical School in New York, said early signs of infection are ‘harmless’ and in hard-to-see places – like the inside of the anus – increasing the likelihood that be missed.

This gives the virus responsible for the rashes a window in which to spread to others, before more serious signs such as flu-like symptoms and rashes all over the body appear.

Varma added that the tropical disease was also helped by a lack of STI testing in the United States, leaving many cases undiagnosed.

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