On July 15, a Friday, language teacher Heitor Sartorelli, 30, went out with three friends to a bar. Between conversations, laughter and appetizers, he had no idea that he would leave there infected with the monkey pox.
The transmission occurred because one of the professor’s friends was infected, but had not yet received the diagnosis.
Heitor tells that this friend was with sore throat there were a few days. He had already been to the doctor, but until then the suspected monkeypoxthe virus that causes monkeypox, had not been raised.
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“I think most doctors haven’t considered [ser varíola dos macacos]”, says Hector. According to him, they even subjected his friend to a Covid test “and it had obviously been negative because it wasn’t [essa infecção]”.
On the day of the meeting, Heitor’s friend had shown improvement in his sore throat because he was taking medicine to relieve the symptom.
That same weekend, however, the teacher’s friend returned to feel irritation in his throat and sought a health service again. Then monkeypox was considered.
On Monday (18), the professor’s friend took the test for the disease and warned the contacts – including Heitor, who felt a mild fever a day later. “I thought it was psychosomatic because he told me,” he says.
However, in the early hours of Thursday (21), Hector’s fever increased. This is one of the symptoms that can occur in monkeypox. Swollen lymph nodes are also a common manifestation.
That same Thursday, the diagnosis of Heitor’s friend was ready – the result was positive for monkeypox. So, the professor sought medical assistance the same day. He also canceled a family gathering. “I opted for isolation.”
The result of Hector’s test, which involved scraping two injuries to the back of his neck, came out on Monday (25). Like his friend, he was positive for monkeypox.
“It was really worrying in the first few days, because I didn’t know how the disease was going to develop”, he says. Even with the fears, his picture remained light and the teacher’s isolation period ends this Friday (5).
Although the transmission of smallpox from monkeys is concentrated in sexual contact, Heitor’s case is an indication that the infection can occur in different contexts. The professor says that the meeting at the bar with friends took place outside the establishment and there was no intimate contact.
“We literally just sat down to have a snack together.”
He also claims that even before meeting his friend, he had no history of intimate relationships with sexual partners. “So it couldn’t even be sexual contact.”
The other two friends present at the bar had no symptoms of monkeypox. Hector suspects that he was the only one infected because he sat next to his friend who already had the disease. He also claims that a friend of his noticed, only later, a mark on his hand that could be one of the injuries caused by monkeypox.
“I must have probably touched his hand without seeing that he had the wound.” According to studies, skin-to-skin contact with rashes is an important form of transmission, regardless of whether it occurs in sex or not.
Like his friend, Hector had simple injuries. In addition to two located on the neck, there was a third on the side of the body. As they were very subtle, the lesions confused the professor – one of them, he even squeezed, thinking it was a pimple.
“These are very simple injuries. They don’t itch or hurt. So much so that I thought it was a pimple. The only person who noticed was the doctor,” she says.
Experts have already reported that many patients have barely noticeable rashes in cases of monkeypox. The scenario can delay the diagnosis, as patients believe it is not a case of monkeypox and are confused with other diseases.
Hector went through a similar situation. When asked by this reporter if he would have suspected monkeypox if his friend had not tested positive for the disease, the professor gives a categorical answer: “never”.
“I only went to test because I got in touch with a friend who had a positive diagnosis. If it weren’t for that, I would have thought it was just the flu or a regular cold. I think therein lies the great danger.”