What it’s like to have monkeypox from one of DC’s first patients


Rob Short, from D.C., spoke out on what it was like to suffer from monkeypox. He described it as ‘excruciatingly painful.’

WASHINGTON — Monkeypox cases continue to rise across the country, as nearly 9,500 cases have been confirmed nationwide. That includes 730 confirmed cases in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia as of Wednesday afternoon. 

Rob Short, a personal trainer from D.C., tested positive for monkeypox in June, and described the condition as “excruciatingly painful.” 

“I would not wish it on anybody,” he said. 

Short said that he caught the disease around the same time as others in his friend group. He said his most painful symptoms lasted about three days. 

“We all got fever,” he said. “Flu-like symptoms, chills, sweats. I changed my sheets twice that night.” 

Along with the flu-like symptoms, Short said he also developed incredibly painful lesions on his anus.

“It was a sore,” he said. “An open wound. And every single time you go to the bathroom, it feels like Satan himself is reaching up inside you and saying ‘hello, you’re my puppet now.'”  

Short also said he noticed a stigma attached to the disease, which continued even after recovery. 

“I was at a pool party,” he said. “And I was explaining to everybody – like – you know – this is what monkeypox looks like and feels like… And the girl was like – ‘get away from me. Don’t come near me. You had monkeypox.'”

Short worried this stigma could lead to violence, something we’ve already seen according to police. Police reported that they are searching for suspects, in connection to a potentially bias-motivated attack in the Shaw neighborhood. 

According to a police report from the Metropolitan Police Department, two men were walking southbound on the east side of 7th Street Northwest when they were approached by suspects on Aug. 7.

Both victims told police they were punched several times and called “monkeypox f******.” Police say the suspects were last seen northbound on 7th Street.

Short said that incidents like this illustrate why the LGBTQ community needs to stick together, and speak out against stigma. 

“I think we’re banding together now more than ever,” he said. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, the CDC is reporting 9,493 confirmed cases of monkeypox nationwide. That includes the following local numbers: 

  • Washington, DC: 319
  • Maryland: 236
  • Virginia: 175