HOUSTON, Texas — There are now 57 cases of confirmed monkeypox in the Houston region with 183 across the state, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
For the people behind the statistics, the virus causes misery and loneliness.
“It hurts to exist. Because my face isn’t touching anything. It’s not like sleeping on a pillow, 'Oh it hurts.' It just hurts to exist to the open air," Wesley Wallace said.
Wallace says just being awake is excruciating.
"As you can see, from the time it started, it’s just progressed and has gotten worse and worse," Wallace said.
It’s right there on his face – what he first thought – was just a pimple soon turned out to be Monkeypox. He has eight different lesions on his chin, and even one in his mouth.
“Every sip, every bite, I'm just like 'Oh I can’t, I can’t. It hurts, it hurts,'" Wallace said.
And it’s spreading.
“Now random little lesions are starting to appear on my body. So you can see the one on my hand. There’s one there on my wrist," Wallace said.
Wallace thinks he caught the virus at a bar on July 4th weekend.
"I’m going to say I was probably kissing somebody that had it and didn’t know it, just based on where my initial lesions popped up," Wallace said.
But he says the access to the vaccine has been so scarce, his friends are leaving the state to get it.
"There’s a huge high-risk population that are just hungry for the vaccine, and they don’t have access to it," Wallace said. "I have friends that are actually buying airline tickets, flying to other cities just to go get the vaccine and then come home.”
He says, along with the pain and the symptoms, comes isolation.
“You look at it, and it’s such an ugly virus. You look at it, and you recoil. And you think I don’t want to be anywhere near that. I knew the stigma that might come with it, but I also know a lot of people are facing that stigma," Wallace said.
He has support, but wants others to know, they’re not alone.
“If you hear from a friend or loved who has this ... just let them know that they’re not some kind of pariah, they’re not dirty. And that they’re going to be okay, it’s not lethal. It’s just very temporary, and it’s scary for the moment," Wallace said.
Wallace thinks he’s got another week or so before he’s finally safe to be around people again, making his total time in quarantine about a month.
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