Smallpox: Man is in agony – and he blames Germany


  • In Germany, too, more and more people are getting chickenpox
  • In most cases, the infection is mild. A man from Berlin found that a mild course can cause severe pain
  • In an interview with our newsroom, he makes serious allegations and explains why Germany is not ready for smallpox.

Martin’s voice sounds agitated and exhausted at the same time. He also has smallpox in his mouth. “It hurts like hell,” he says into the phone. Repeatedly for two weeks high feverHis body is weak, swollen and bruised in places that torture going to the toilet.

Even phoning is exhausting for him, but he wants to tell his story of two painful weeks of monkey pox because he feels authorities left alone and not well cared for. “Germany is not doing a good job,” he said disappointedly.

Smallpox: Martin is afraid of bad talk

In the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, Martin moved to Berlin from the United States in the spring of 2021. The American wanted to live closer to his good friends from Germany. An IT expert quickly got a job in a large company. For this article, a 30-year-old man would like to remain anonymous because his employer and his neighbors should not know that he is in his apartment and is turning to smallpox cured. They are afraid of appearance, bad talk and stigmatization, which has already been warned by the Federal Government’s representative for queers, Sven Lehmann, in connection with monkey pox.

Martin is well educated and has a hard job. His photo Whatsapp shows how he smiles, has brown hair, green eyes and white teeth. Martin is gay, he belongs to a group of men who have sex with other men. This group, abbreviated to “MSM” in technical jargon, is the only one in Germany that has been affected by the smallpox virus. The virus appeared in Germany in May, and according to the Robert Koch Institute, there are now 131 known cases in ten federal states.

She meets a man for the first time, they have sex

To Martin’s critique German health system to understand, you have to start from the beginning. He goes on a date on Sunday evening, May 22. He made an appointment with a man with whom he had been flirting in writing for a year. He met his date, around 45 years old and living alone, on the dating application “Romeo”. “We met at his apartment, we talked, then we had sex,” he says in retrospect. “But it wasn’t an agreed-upon sexual date,” he explains, “although it was clear from the beginning that we both wanted it.”

They talk for an hour, they are intimate for an hour. They both take Prep, a drug that prevents you from getting HIV, they don’t use a condom. They try anal sex, but they don’t do well. They then mainly kiss and have oral sex. These parts of the body are important because these will be exactly where the smallpox later develops.

Then Martin goes home to his 55 square meter apartment, takes a shower, lies down and sleeps. Also read: Smallpox: Spain and Portugal are outbreaks in Europe

He has sex with four different men in five days

He gets up at 8 a.m. the next day, eats breakfast, and starts working from home. The next date is in the afternoon, he has sex again, this time with a tourist, whom he also met through the application. The next date follows on Tuesday, also on Thursday. He has known the men from Tuesday and Thursday a little longer. When on Thursday night after Sex showers, notes three redheads on his ass. “They looked like little pimples, but I thought it was chocolate I ate the day before.”

But on Saturday afternoon, 6 days after having sex with a 45-year-old man, Martin suddenly developed a fever, his body hurts, and his lymph nodes are swollen. “Then I looked at the pimples on my ass – and they were swollen.” Martin googles the symptoms. He suspects bad things. syphilis or smallpox?

Smallpox: His search for medical help begins

His search for medical help begins. He goes to the nearest hospital, Vivantes am Friedrichshain. He tells about his symptoms at the reception. The doctor sends him to the Charité dermatology department. After arriving at dermatology, he should go to the emergency room, where he first sits in a public waiting room for an hour. Only then is he sent to an isolated room. “In retrospect, I wonder why it took so long,” he was not the first man smallpox in Germany. And the virus was heard everywhere. As in our commentary on the stigma.

It’s 9 p.m., they take blood and swabs from smallpox in his ass. “Finally, at 1:30, a nurse came and said they wanted to keep me in the hospital, I already had a fever and a cold.” A urine sample follows at four o’clock. Because he doesn’t feel very bad, he preferred to go home and wait for the test results there. He signs papers that he leaves of his own free will. Urgent admission after 7 hours.

“Honestly, I was also worried about what would happen to me if the doctors found out what I had. Maybe they wouldn’t let me go? ”Martin needs help, but on the other hand, he’s afraid of the consequences of the infection. He also lived in Mexico and Brazil for a long time and did not always have a good experience as a gay man in hospitals there. And the partially stigmatized debate on smallpox in Germany is doing the rest.

“My whole body hurt, but the smallpox didn’t hurt yet”

He rides home by bike. There he takes Painkillers, ibuprofen, paracetamol. “My whole body hurt, but the smallpox didn’t hurt yet.”

He will receive it on Monday morning Diagnosis of monkeypox. At this point, he counts nine from the smallpox on his ass, and when he touches them, he feels a little pain. He has a fever, a cold, he can’t sleep, he sweats for liters. Friends put food in front of his door.

It will come two days later medical department. “He was a friendly, nice person,” says Martin. She explains the 21-day quarantine, but at least until all the smallpox heals, and asks where he might have become infected. Martin already knows. Already on Monday, he informed all his contacts from last week. And the 45-year-old from Romeo is also sick, his whole face covered in thick pustules. The woman from the office is satisfied with the answer. He has no further questions. “Actually, I’m a little shocked that she didn’t check all my contacts herself.” Martin informs her that he had sex with three other men. Fortunately, to date, none of the three men have contracted the virus.

The smallpox drug Tecovirimat is hardly available in Germany

Next week will be bad for Martin. On Friday, 11 days after the infection, his anus hurts, he checks, full of smallpox. “When I go to the bathroom, I feel like a knife wound.” Later, every movement hurts. He stays in bed trying to read all about the virus. Martin is worried, he also suffers from Long Covid. As the pain worsened, he called an ambulance to wait two hours for a transfer to the hospital. Unable to sit down, he rides an electric scooter to the hospital. He arrived in Charité Virchow Klinikum, he should wait in the parking lot, there is no place for him. The doctor comes out in complete protective gear and gives him painkillers and cream.

He asks if he’s the doctor Tecovirimat may prescribe. A drug recently approved in the EU for the treatment of monkeypox. Martin read about it.

The doctor’s answer is sobering up, unfortunately there are not enough supplies of medicine in Germany. And it is reserved for patients with a very severe course or immune deficiency, such as HIV. There are currently only ten doses of Tecovirimat in Germany.

The Federal Ministry of Health does not order Tecovirimat

It is not possible to say how many patients have already been treated with tecovirimate. However, a question about RKI and STAKOB, based there, a permanent working group of competence and treatment centers for diseases caused by highly pathogenic pathogens, confirms a small amount of the drug in Germany. “In acute cases, clinics support each other – in counseling in therapy and in the provision of medicines, if these are available only to a very limited extent, as is currently the case with Tecovirimat,” writes Dr. Michaela Niebank, internal medicine / infectology specialist from STAKOB. “But the order of magnitude should be correct.”

That Federal Ministry of Health in turn, advises attending physicians to contact the responsible STAKOB clinic in emergency situations. According to a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, they have individual benefits and are also “known for taking in acute cases”. STAKOB couldn’t confirm that again. The exchange of medicines between hospitals is mentioned. And hospitals again have only ten cans in Germany.

The worst has happened to Martin so far on the 14th day after the infection

This information will not help Martin. He bleeds from the rectum 14 days after the infection. This time he is so bad that he can no longer drive an e-scooter. He also doesn’t want to stand in the parking lot anymore. He’s calling the hospital. He was told by phone that he would normally be examined for anal bleeding, but not for monkey pox.

“It’s hard for me to believe that Germany only has ten doses of Tecovirimat,” Martin says into the phone. It’s the 16th day after the infection. For the first time this week, he is doing a little better. He emphasizes: “I do not have a mild infection.” Everyone who gets chickenpox is at risk of chaos and poor medical care. “It’s very indecent to endure such a disease.” It’s an infection that can scar me from the outside for the rest of my life. ”He now has smallpox on his shoulder, in addition to those on his ass, rectum and mouth, which have opened up and hurt.

The Standing Vaccination Committee now recommends vaccinating against monkeypox for a group of men who have sex with men. Martin is also for. “It’s a terrible infection. If I was not in this situation, I would fly to the USA and go to a sexual health clinic and get a drug, “said Martin. Germany is ill-prepared for the monkeypox virus, at least in his case.

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