After testing positive for COVID-19 at the end of June, Mitcho Thompson, who lives in the Sonoma County town of Sebastopol, told NBC Bay Area Monday that he started seeing red lesions on his back, legs, arms and neck, a telling symptom of monkeypox, a virus that’s spreading quickly around the globe.
“The doctor was very certain that I have monkeypox and that I had both,” Thompson said. “That was the question. Could I get them at the same time? And he said, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’”
Having both viruses kept him sick for weeks, feeling like he had a horrible flu.
“Really sick,” Thompson told the network affiliate. “And the worst of it was honestly where I just could barely get out of bed and you could barely even get a drink of water.”
Dr. Dean Winslow, a Stanford University professor of medicine and infectious diseases specialist, said in an interview with NBC Bay Area that it’s rare for someone to be hit by both COVID-19 and monkeypox at the same time.
“It’s certainly not impossible for that to occur,” Winslow said. “It’s just incredibly bad luck. They are very different viruses.”
COVID-19 is more easily spread than monkeypox, especially with the most contagious version of the coronavirus so far. The omicron subvariant known as BA.5, is sweeping through the country and driving up cases and hospitalizations.
Monkeypox usually starts with flu-like symptoms similar to COVID-19 followed by a rash that develops into fluid-filled pustules that eventually scab over and drop off. It is usually transmitted through prolonged intimate contact, although it can be caught through contact with bedding and other materials used by an infected person.
Efforts to contain the monkeypox outbreak, largely occurring among men who have sex with men, may not be working, U.S. health experts have warned.
There are now 13 monkeypox cases in Utah — five confirmed and five probable cases in Salt Lake County, where the state’s first cases were identified in May, and one each in Utah and Davis counties, and the area served by the Weber-Morgan Health Department, according to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.