George avoided Covid during the pandemic, but then became one of the first UK cases of monkeypox virus after he developed strange symptoms
As the black, scabby lesion grew, George turned to Google. The 29-year-old was unnerved by the wart-like spot; as a healthcare worker he had “seen quite a bit”, but this was unlike any infection he’d come across.
“I know I should never Google symptoms, but I just had no idea what it was,” George (not his real name) told the Telegraph over Zoom. “I was very concerned that it might be a sexually transmitted infection.”
Doctors were baffled, too. At a sexual health clinic in London, they ran “every test under the sun”, but all came back negative. Nothing seemed to explain George’s mounting raft of symptoms.
He was fatigued, suffering from a low-grade fever and “horrendous” lower back pain, while his lymph nodes were tender and swollen. Alongside a rash and the “nasty-looking” black lesion in his groin, seven or eight small spot-like sores had sprouted across his body – on his right elbow, his stomach and back.
It was only when George went to hospital with a secondary throat infection that the pieces of the puzzle began to slot into place. The healthcare worker had dodged Covid for two years – despite his work on the front lines – but he was now at the forefront of a new outbreak concerning scientists across the globe
“[When I was in hospital] I got a call from the sexual health doctor who said, ‘I think this might be monkeypox’,” says George, one of the first patients to speak publicly about his experience. “Suddenly everyone was in PPE and taking it incredibly seriously.”
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