ATLANTA — Casey Hampton started getting what looked like multiple pimples throughout his body. Most of them were first growing on his hands and groin.
He first thought they were heat rashes, but a trip to his doctor and dermatologist told him otherwise: he had monkeypox.
"You can see that they're scabbing over now, they're regenerating new skin," he said. "I quarantined for 10 days. I did not leave my house. And luckily, thankfully yesterday, I was declared monkeypox free because I have not had fevers or lesions in the past 72 hours."
As of Wednesday, monkeypox cases in Georgia, topped more than 300, according to the CDC. Hampton is one of the 312 cases in the state.
When we spoke to him on Zoom, he had been in quarantine for 10 days and had monkeypox for about 14 days by that point.
He’s unsure if he got it from a hospital visit earlier this month or while visiting family in Florida, but what he does know is that it’s the worst pain he’s ever felt.
"It’s like somebody takes a dull knife that is searingly hot and it’s cutting inside of you, and then uses a toothbrush afterwards and brushes it," he said.
He said his biopsy results took one week to come back, but his doctor and dermatologist were convinced he had monkeypox and urged him to quarantine. They also gave him steroid and anti-inflammatory medications.
"I've had foot surgery, I've had back surgery. I've had a tonsillectomy, I've had an appendectomy. No pain can compare to this at the pain," Hampton added.
The test then confirmed it. For him, days: six, seven, and eight were the worst.
"Muscle aches, fever, and just pain around your body. Showering felt like razor blades all over my body," he said.
Health officials said that while the majority of cases are among gay or bisexual men who have sex with men, it can also spread just from coming in direct contact with an infected person. Hampton, who is a gay man, wants to remind people that anyone can get it.
“It doesn’t matter if you are gay, straight, white, Black, male, female, non-binary – get vaccinated. It can affect everybody," he said. "We don't want this to be an epidemic in our community and nobody should have to go through this pain."
The CDC said the virus can also live on surfaces, and spread to and from pets. Hampton had to take all of these precautions.
"You have to wash your sheets, you have to disinfect everything in your house all day, every day," added Hampton. "I had to send my dog away. He is very happy to be home."
Hampton is happy to be out of his home, where he had been in quarantine by himself. He has some takeaways for people: get vaccinated.
If you get monkeypox symptoms, here's his advice: don't think you can only go to a doctor... a dermatologist should be able to help you, too.
He also has advice for folks going through it:
"Make sure that you’re taking stool softeners because pain in that area can be uncomfortable and very painful," he said.
He also urges people to rest and hydrate.
For those who don't have monkeypox, other than getting the vaccine, he urges folks to not go out in large gatherings as the chances of spreading, and getting it, are growing each day, Hampton said.
"Luckily, nobody in my orbit has gotten that. But looking on Facebook, I have seen friends of mine that are in other cities, particularly looking at Miami and New Orleans. If you are in Provincetown, that's a big destination, especially for a gay man. Those three cities, I've noticed a lot of people have been posting that they now have monkeypox coming back from that," he said.