‘It is hard to recognise at the beginning because the first symptoms could be a flu,’ Maxim Sapozhnikov says
A fashion blogger has been updating his followers on what it is like to have monkeypox after he caught the virus.
Maxim Sapozhnikov, who lives in Italy, said he was unsure whether to go public with his diagnosis due to the fear of stigma.
But he wants to raise awareness as an Instagram post on symptoms helped him to catch the virus at an early stage.
The blogger said he has experienced fever, diarrhea and pimples on unusual parts of his body since falling ill.
“I can’t believe it is happening to me,” Mr Sapozhnikov said in a video.
More than 4,300 cases of monkeypox have been detected around the world in the current outbreak.
Most patients experience only fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
The disease is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have been infected through animal bites and the virus does not usually spread among people.
But more than 40 countries where monkeypox is not usually found – mainly in Europe – have seen outbreaks this year.
Mr Sapozhnikov said he took a Covid test after falling ill, but it came back negative.
“Honestly, it is hard to recognise at the beginning because the first symptoms could be a flu,” he told his Instagram followers in a video.
He added: “It is headache and fever and for me it was a little bit of diarrhea.”
The blogger said he spent the first two days with these symptoms. ”On the third day, the fever was gone and I’ve got a small pimple on my finger. Now it’s big. But before it was little,” he said.
He also pointed out another lesion on his collarbone that also started out as a small pimple and said he has since noticed more all over his body.
Mr Sapozhnikov said he was not sure whether to speak out about having monkeypox at first, with friends even advising him against it.
But he is now spreading awareness of symptoms to help others identify infections.
But he told Sky News: “There shouldn’t be embarrassment, there shouldn’t be stigma, it doesn’t matter where this person got the disease, it doesn’t matter for the reason of this disease.
“It matters that the person is sick and they need help and if the person is going to be by himself and doesn’t know how to get help then he’s going to be worse for this.”
There have been warnings against the stigmatisation of gay and bisexual people during the monkeypox outbreak, with a notable proportion of cases identified among men who have sex with men.
Charities and health authorities say there is a need to raise awareness among this group, but “lazy, homophobic tropes” have also emerged.
Mr Sapozhnikov told his followers monkeypox can be spread through a number of ways, including respiratory particles and touching items used by infected people.
He wrote on Instagram: “Contrary to all prejudices, the disease does not choose sexual orientation!”