Britain’s first monkeypox patient to go public criticises 'confusing' advice

"It started off very similar to a cold - sore, a fever, chills," James McFadzean told ITV News

Britain’s first monkeypox patient to go public said he was shocked to find out he had the virus after thinking at first it was a cold or flu.

James McFadzean from London also criticised “confusing” medical advice from UK authorities and said he wasn't ordered to fully isolate for 21 days by doctors.

He sought medical help when the pain spread to his lower back and tests confirmed he was one of 305 people in England with monkeypox.

"It started off very similar to a cold - sore, a fever, chills, very, very tired, but exhaustion beyond belief," James told ITV News.

"That's when I started experiencing some odd pain in my lower back which is very unusual for me.

"I'm usually quite fit and well and that's when I called the doctor after four or five days of feeling generally unwell," he explained.

The UK Health Security Agency said the outbreak was “disproportionately” affecting gay or bisexual men who have sex with men. It said anyone could get the virus, particularly if they have had close contact, including sexual contact, with an individual with symptoms.

James said he was worried the virus could lead to gay men being stigmatised.

Monkeypox is not normally a sexually transmitted infection, but it can be passed on by direct contact during sex.

It can also be spread through touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash.

'Wrong phone number'

James said he felt abandoned by authorities and disappointed by their response when he needed help.

"It was only a full two weeks after my initial test that the UKHSA got in touch, they had a problem, the wrong phone number," James said.

"Mistakes happen but when there's a virus going around that we know is very infectious and we've just been through Covid I'd like to think the infrastructure would be there," he added.

Letter sent to James by a London clinic confirming he had monkeypox

James said he felt so unwell he could barely stand up and wasn't eating or drinking and even the A&E department at his local hospital told him to stay away.

"When you're living on your own, you're feeling extremely unwell with the virus I wish there had been a bit more clinical support at that point," James said.

"I think for me the main thing is really about people having more of an awareness of symptoms.

"Don't wait for a rash that may or may never come, just if you're feeling unwell and trust your gut and seek out the cause," he added.

'Limit contact with other people'

Responding to James's case, Dr Yimmy Chow, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control at the UKHSA said: "We had previously made multiple attempts to reach this individual by phone and email and have now successfully made contact.

"Anyone who suspects they might have Monkeypox, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner, to limit their contact with other people and contact NHS 111 or their local sexual health service as soon as they can."

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