Bay Area man’s monkeypox diagnosis was ‘painful and terrifying’

Two days after Kevin Kwong flew back to California from New York, his hands were so itchy the pain jolted him from sleep. He thought the problem was eczema.

“Everything started to escalate quickly,” the Emeryville resident said. “I started getting more pimples, on my face, more redness and they started leaking. The rash spread to my elbows, hands and ankles.

It took Kwong, 33, six virtual appointments with doctors and nurses, a call to a nursing hotline, a trip to an urgent care clinic, two emergency room visits and two incorrect diagnoses before an infectious disease specialist diagnosed him with monkeypox in early July. .

Despite two tests, he never tested positive.

As the number of monkeypox cases has skyrocketed in the United States over the past month, the public health system is struggling to raise awareness of the danger of the virus and distribute a limited amount of vaccines to vulnerable people. But the problem goes even further. Those at risk of infection struggle with dead ends, delays, incorrect diagnoses and inappropriate treatments as they navigate an unprepared and ill-informed healthcare system.

The once-obscure virus is racing hospitals to teach ER staff how to identify and test it properly. Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Francisco who eventually diagnosed Kwong, said his case was a tipping point for the research hospital.

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