Man hospitalized with monkeypox says he couldn’t swallow his own saliva and feared he might die

Aaron Tulunay

Harun Tulunay during his stay in a London hospital with monkeypox.Aaron Tulunay

  • A man in his 30s with severe monkeypox said he needed hospital treatment for 11 days.

  • Harun Tulunay said his throat was so sore he was unable to swallow his own saliva.

  • Pregnant people, children, and people with weakened immune systems may be at risk for severe monkeypox.

A man hospitalized with monkeypox for nearly two weeks told Insider he couldn’t swallow his own saliva and feared he might die.

Monkeypox usually causes mild illness, with most people recovering within weeks without treatment.

But Harun Tulunay, a 35-year-old charity worker in the UK, spent 11 days in hospital with what doctors told him was one of the most serious cases of monkeypox they had treated.

Pregnant people, children under 8, people with eczema, and people with weakened immune systems may be at risk for severe monkeypox. Tulunay has HIV, which can damage immune system cells, but blood tests suggested he had a robust immune system at the time of his monkeypox infection.

Dr. Jason Zucker, an infectious disease specialist working in New York who was not involved in Tulanay’s case, told the New York Times that “for a percentage of people, it’s much worse than what I expected. was expecting” but we don’t know why.

Tulunay is one of 2,137 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the UK since an unusual outbreak began in at least 50 countries in May. Most of the UK cases are in London, where Tulunay, who is gay, lives and believes he caught it after kissing someone. In the United States, there were 2,323 confirmed cases of the disease on Wednesday, spread across 43 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, but mostly concentrated in New York. No one died from the disease in either country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a high number of cases involve gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. But anyone can catch it by having close contact with an infected person or by touching contaminated objects like bedding. As Insider’s Hilary Brueck previously reported, it’s not a “gay disease.”

Tulunay said the pain was like flesh ripped from his bones

Tulunay started feeling unwell on June 13 with a mild fever he thought was due to COVID-19, but the tests came back negative.

Over the next 24 hours, he developed excruciating pain throughout his body that felt “like tearing your flesh out of your bones”, he said.

After five days, he had fevers over 103 degrees Fahrenheit, swollen glands and sore throat. Tulunay said that despite a heatwave in London he had slept with four blankets, adding that he had suffered from heat rash due to fever.

Tulunay took excessive doses of paracetamol and ibuprofen, as well as other medications he had at home that he hoped might help: antibiotics, hay fever tablets and over-the-counter sleeping pills. Nothing worked.

He also noticed a painless pimple-like spot on his nose, but didn’t give it much thought.

Harun Tulunay rash

Tulunay said he had a rash due to his high fevers.Aaron Tulunay

Four days later, Tulunay underwent a monkeypox test at his local hospital and a medical examination for any other illnesses that may be causing his symptoms, as the test results did not come back right away.

Doctors discharged him the same day with antibiotics for tonsillitis. A nurse called him daily to check on him, but over the next three days he said his throat became so sore and swollen that he could no longer eat, drink or swallow his own saliva.

“I thought I was going to die”

After Tulunay told the nurse he couldn’t swallow his saliva, she immediately arranged for him to be admitted to hospital, where he was treated with paracetamol and opioid painkillers.

“A friend called me and I clearly remember telling her I thought I was going to die because nothing is getting better,” he said.

Three days after he was admitted to hospital, Tulunay’s test confirmed he had monkeypox and lesions had appeared on his hands, legs and feet. “My throat and my mouth were covered,” he said, adding that the lesion on his nose had become infected.

Nose Tulany

One of the Tulunay monkeypox lesions developed a bacterial infection.Haroun Tulany

Tulunay was transferred to a specialist hospital for treatment with an experimental drug that works against smallpox, a related virus.

Doctors treated him in hazmat suits for protection and Tulunay said that, and being in his own room was the worst part of the experience. “I was wondering, am I ever going to hug someone again? he said.

After five more days in hospital, Tulunay was discharged and, apart from a scar on his nose, made a full recovery, ending solitary confinement on July 14.

Tulunay said he didn’t go public with his story to scare people, but to raise awareness so people can be more respectful of others and empowered to take care of their own health.

“Look at me. It took a while, but I’m fine,” he said.

Read the original Insider article

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