Ryan said he was experiencing “odd” symptoms five days after returning from a trip. He detailed his struggle to get the correct diagnosis from healthcare providers.
SEATTLE — The first person to be diagnosed with monkeypox in Washington state sat down for an exclusive interview with KING 5.
The World Health Organization recently declared monkeypox a global health emergency. The US is currently reporting nearly 5,000 cases of the disease.
Monkeypox is an infection that is spreading mostly through close contact with other people who are infected. The infection can result in a rash that appears like pimples or blisters on the face, inside the mouth or other parts of the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Ryan, who requested his last name be withheld, said he started experiencing “odd” symptoms five days after returning from a trip to the United Kingdom.
“Sort of some stuff on my skin,” he said.
Ryan went to his dermatologist and primary care doctor, but he said they were dismissive.
“I felt like, how can I find a doctor who will put more effort into this?” said Ryan.
Ryan found a community clinic that ran several tests which all came back negative, so he began doing his own research and went back to the doctor.
“We agreed that we should talk to the CDC and then we did and it went from there,” said Ryan. He was then immediately tested for monkeypox and had a positive result 36 hours later.
“It was super scary, and I think the stress and anxiety that comes with that probably exacerbated the symptoms,” said Ryan.
At that point, Ryan was the first confirmed case of monkeypox in Washington state. He said Public Health – Seattle and King County was extremely helpful.
“Since then so much more information has come to light and we know a lot more about the pace that it’s spreading and yet it still seems like the reaction hasn’t changed much,” said Ryan.
Doctor Matthew Golden, director of Seattle and King county’s HIV/STD program, said the number of cases of monkeypox is doubling each week and the current vaccine supply can’t keep up.
“We think ideally we’d have at least 80,000 doses of the vaccine, what we have at present is only 6% of that,” Golden said.
King County received its latest shipment of 3,300 vaccine doses Wednesday and has been vaccinating people at Harborview Medical Center. They plan to continue vaccinating one-third at Harborview, while sending one-third to providers around the county and the last third will be administered through community vaccinate events which they hope will be running in 10 days.
Ryan recently asked to get vaccinated and has been told by King County that he’s not considered eligible, since he is recently recovered.
“We have tools that can prevent the spread and we’re not using them to our fullest extent, that’s what’s tough for me to see,” said Ryan.
His friends have gone to Canada to get vaccinated.
“I’ve also considered going to Canada or somewhere else to get it,” said Ryan.