Miami man diagnosed with monkeypox says skin feels like it’s on fire

Monkeypox patient says he is raising awareness because growing outbreak can affect anyone

Jonathan Araujo, 24, said at first he had a fever and chills for two days. Then he started to break out on his face and his upper body. A lesion on his lip really concerned him.

SOUTH BEACH, Fla. – Jonathan Araujo, who lives in Miami and works as a bartender at the Palace in South Beach, is among the monkeypox patients who want officials to take more aggressive action against the outbreak.

Araujo, 24, said at first he had a fever and chills for two days. Then he started to break out on his face and his upper body. A lesion on his lip really concerned him.

Tuesday was the seventh day since a doctor at Jackson Memorial Hospital diagnosed him.

“You wake up every day with a new bump, a new sore, another lesion, more pain, and you look at yourself in the mirror ... and I don’t see myself,” Araujo said.

Araujo has been sharing his journey with his more than 3,000 followers on Instagram. He said the itchy rashes and painful skin lesions are torturous.

“It feels like somebody struck like a match and set fire to my skin,” Araujo said adding, “It’s excruciating like within a split second like a jolt of pain.

Other symptoms of monkeypox include headaches, muscle aches, backaches, swollen lymph nodes, and exhaustion. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the illness lasts 2-4 weeks.

“It’s serious. It’s not just sexually transmitted. It’s not a gay disease,” Araujo said adding, “I didn’t get it from risky behavior. I got it from going clubbing with my friends.”

The CDC has been urging healthcare providers to be alert for patients who have rash illnesses — regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Monkeypox can spread by touching items such as clothing or linens that previously touched the infectious rash, or by preparing or eating meat from an infected animal, according to the CDC. A pregnant woman can spread the virus to the fetus through the placenta.

Araujo said his mental health has also suffered during the quarantine.

“It’s defeating. It really is.”

The ongoing outbreak has mostly affected men who had sex with men during the last month in Europe and the U.S. Health officials have stressed that anyone can get monkeypox, so they are working to distribute vaccines and expand testing. There have been no U.S. deaths.

Vaccines build immunity and can reduce the severity of the symptoms if given within days of first becoming infected, according to the CDC. The two-dose vaccine, Jynneos, is the newest.

Broward County has reported the most cases in Florida. According to Nina Levine, of the Florida Department of Health in Broward County, the agency received 3,000 Jynneos vaccines on July 8.

“The state will continue making these requests to the federal government to ensure vaccines are available to high-risk communities,” Levine said in a statement.

The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County has been vaccinating laboratory personnel, some healthcare personnel, and some immunocompromised gay men.

Related story: Pride Center in Wilton Manors offers free monkeypox vaccines


How to protect yourself

  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash or scabs.
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle, or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Source: The CDC


Learning from patient

(Unedited videos)

Araujo describes symptoms

“After the third day, the fever and the chills broke.”

Araujo talks about pain

“It has been intense going through this kind of pain.”

Araujo on need to raise awareness

“It’s not just sexually transmitted; it’s not a gay disease.”

Araujo on hospitalization

“Everybody was afraid of me.”

Araujo on lack of information

“I couldn’t find any videos about people going through it.”

Araujo shares frustration with treatment

“What did I need Percocet for?”

Araujo discusses impact on mental health

“I didn’t realize how much of a mental battle this was going to be.”

Local 10 News Reporter Christian De La Rosa contributed to this report.

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.