This 20-year-old mother — one of the first people in Georgia to have monkeypox — says she's faced death threats accusing her of spreading the virus 'all across' her state

·6 min read
Monkeypox survivor, 20-year-old Camille Seaton, was one of the first people in Georgia with the virus.
Monkeypox survivor, 20-year-old Camille Seaton, was one of the first people in Georgia with the virus.Courtesy of Camille Seaton
  • A Georgia mother describes her experience after testing positive for monkeypox in July.

  • Camille Seaton, 20, told Insider that it took her three and a half weeks to heal from the virus.

  • She described her experience as being painful but noted that she is fully healing.

Camille Seaton looked into her bathroom mirror and started noticing bumps appearing on her face.

Seaton knew something was wrong, although she wasn't sure what yet, but decided to separate herself from her 3-year-old daughter just to be safe.

"When you first see the bumps appear, that's your warning," Seaton, 20, told Insider.

"The first night when the bumps started to appear, I was vomiting and had diarrhea — I was just like, 'Okay, something's wrong.' So I took [my daughter], not knowing what it was, to my family's house."

Over the next few days, Seaton's symptoms progressed, and it wasn't the typical breakout like she thought. She started realizing that the bumps were turning white and into blisters, describing it as looking like "cereal holes on my face."

The Georgia resident checked into the emergency room in mid-July, where the doctors swabbed her lesions. Forty-eight hours later, she was informed that she had the monkeypox virus, an illness that can trigger flu-like symptoms and infectious pus-filled boils that spread throughout the body.

"It was itching. It was joint pain. It was excruciating headaches. It was fainting. I was in pain literally all of the time," she said. "You have to go through so much before you even start the healing process."

"I actually had a Monkeypox [lesion] in my ear, and I can't hear out of my right ear [canal] really," she added.

As of August 12, there have been over 11,000 monkeypox cases in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Public health officials are still grappling with a scarcity of vaccines and rampant misinformation.

Seaton's experience is a cautionary tale of navigating an already-strained health care system and using social media to combat gossip.

'I couldn't pretty much handle anything'

Photo shows Day 6 after Camille Seaton, 20, contracted the monkeypox virus.
Photo shows Day 6 after Camille Seaton, 20, contracted the monkeypox virus.

Photo shows Day 6 after Camille Seaton, 20, contracted the monkeypox virus.Courtesy of Camille Seaton

Being that Seaton was one of the first people in her state to contract the virus, she said she was contacted by the CDC and told them about her experience.

Specifically, in the Peach State, there are 851 cases of the virus, and health officials say infections are rising. In wake of the virus trending upward, the White House declared the outbreak a public health emergency last week.

Isolation in her townhouse was lonely for Seaton, especially without her daughter. Experts say that the infection can last between two and four weeks and urge people to prioritize staying at home.

However, during the isolation period, Seaton heavily relied on ordering her food and other necessities through delivery apps. She said that about a week and a half after she contracted the virus, the lesions appeared all over her body.

"I couldn't wash dishes. I couldn't fold my clothes," she said. "I couldn't pretty much handle anything. It really hurt."

To manage her pain, she told Insider that she was mostly taking Tylenol. Limited treatments are available for the monkeypox virus, and Seaton said that she wasn't offered additional treatment. 

The Department of Health and Human Services plans to make 1.1 million vials of the monkeypox vaccine available, according to a statement. As of August 12, there have been roughly 630,000 vials sent to states around the country, the agency said.

And in Georgia, about 27,000 vaccines have been released to the state, which has a population of over 10 million.

"You don't find comfort in knowing that there's no cure and that nobody knows what to do for you and that you have to sit there in pain and just literally wait it out and suffer," Seaton said.

She started to use TikTok as an outlet to educate others on the virus and continued to update her audience on her progress.

"As the cases grow, I just want everybody to know that they're not alone and I'm here to help them, and I'm here to spread information about what I went through so that maybe they can find comfort in having it in general," she said.

Seaton took a hit financially after being out of work for weeks.

For Seaton, it took three and a half weeks to recover. Once her scabs started to fully heal and she was no longer considered contagious, she worked overtime to disinfect her home to prepare to reconnect with her child.

"That's me bleaching the bathroom. I'm cleaning the walls," she said. I'm mopping. I'm disinfecting the counters. I'm putting Lysol on all the door handles and on everything that we touch."

Camille and her 3-year-old daughter.
Camille and her 3-year-old daughter.Courtesy of Camille Seaton

Seaton's first day back to work was on Tuesday at a gas station, where she believes she contracted the virus due to handling money and then touching her face.

She said that she has been recognized by strangers because of her online content.

And in addition to some negative backlash as well as death threats online, she has received intimidating calls at her job.

"The person on the phone was just saying, 'Why are you at work, and you have Monkeypox? Why the f--k would you do that?" she said. "People on the internet, they're saying, 'Ew, why are you spreading it?' They're thinking I'm the one who's spreading it all across Georgia."

She added that people have also baselessly accused her of contracting the virus through sex with a gay man — a falsehood as experts have explained that anyone could contract the virus, and transmission is not restricted to intercourse. The virus could spread simply through skin-to-skin contact and fabrics.

And on top of the physical healing from the monkeypox virus, Seaton had to recover financially as well. The mother said she wasn't sure if her daughter was going to have a home to come back to after being out of work for about a month.

She created a GoFundMe for support and has raised nearly $18,000 so far. Seaton said she not only plans to help herself but others as well.

"I really want to give back to a lot of hospitals that are treating people with monkeypox and monkeypox organizations in general," she said. "The proceeds are going to go to my baby and medical bills that I've to pay. I was able to pay rent. It's just overwhelming the amount of support that I've been getting."

Read the original article on Insider