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As he recovers from monkeypox, reporter from Bridgeport emphasizes how serious it is

Chicago man describes painful experience with monkeypox
Chicago man describes painful experience with monkeypox 02:51

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Bridgeport neighborhood man recovering from monkeypox told his story Friday in the hopes of helping others.

As CBS 2's Tim McNicholas reported, Aaron Gettinger is one of about 202 people who have had confirmed monkeypox cases in Chicago – as reported Friday by the Chicago Department of Public Health.

It's not easy for patients to talk about, but Gettinger wanted to ensure people know just how serious this is.

The lesions on Gettinger's body are starting to heal, and the pain is fading. But it was not pleasant, to say the least.

At its peak last week, on a scale of one to 10, Gettinger said he was at "seven or eight in terms of pain."

Patients have described painful sores all over their bodies, along with fevers, headaches, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

"I called my prescriber for a next level of painkiller, because garden-variety ibuprofen - which is still a prescription-level pain medication - was not doing it for me," Gettinger said. "I needed something else."

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the virus is spreading primarily among men with same-sex partners.

"This really does take, based on everything we know now, close and generally intimate contact," Arwady said.

She said the virus can spread from respiratory droplets or talking to someone. But unlike COVID, monkeypox usually takes about three hours of face-to-face contact to spread that way.

"And most cases where we're seeing this are coming from much more intimate skin-to-skin contact or kissing," Arwady said.

Arwady emphasized Friday that "monkeypox is not COVID," and also noted that doctors are not recommending that everyone get the monkeypox, also known as MPV, vaccine preemptively.

Arwady said on Friday that only people who meet certain criteria can get the vaccine for now.

"MPV vaccine is now recommended for the general public and at this time that includes not being recommended for same gender loving men who do not have those other risk factors," Arwady said.

Gettinger emphasized being careful.

"Queer people should be taking this seriously," Gettinger said. "This is spreading - and we all know the risky behaviors we can take part in that can lead to acquiring it. I certainly did, and I still went out

and participated in risky behavior that led me to contracting monkeypox."

Gettinger said he did get vaccinated just days before his monkeypox symptoms started - so the vaccine hadn't taken full effect yet. He is also a reporter whose been writing about monkeypox for the Hyde Park Herald since May - so he has viewed that as an important topic for months.

And now as the cases mount, Gettinger feels it's especially important to take preventative steps. 

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