Monkeypox patient shares diagnosis to encourage vaccination in Maricopa County

At first, Alessandro Regge was misdiagnosed with a skin condition, but after his symptoms worsened, he was tested for monkeypox.
Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 6:08 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Maricopa County is now reporting 100 confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox. Vaccines for the disease are currently in short supply, and a specific population can get them.

Alessandro Regge lives in the Valley and is using his diagnosis to encourage others in the LGBTQ community to get vaccinated. He says he knew very little about the monkeypox outbreak, but it wasn’t until he began feeling symptoms that he looked into it. “Leading up to the 4th of July weekend, I noticed a rash was coming on. Two or three days later I started getting a fever and swollen lymph nodes. I had some lesions on my lower lip and inside my mouth which caused my lip to swell,” explained Regge.

At first, he was misdiagnosed with a skin condition, but after his symptoms worsened, he was tested for monkeypox. He believes he was the second confirmed case in Arizona. “[The test] is a simple swab of the lesions to collect some of the material and it was sent to the lab for testing. Testing came back positive within 24 hours,” Regge said.

Right now, most cases have been among men or transwomen who have sex with men. That’s why they, along with anyone in close contact with a positive case, are among those eligible for the vaccine. “However, monkeypox is not an STD, and monkeypox is not a gay virus. Anybody can be impacted,” Regge said. “Pushing the vaccination is not just good for the individuals at risk, but ultimately it’s important for the community at large.”

After making a full recovery, Regge got his first dose of the vaccine. He is now working to bring awareness to the stigma surrounding monkeypox and the most at-risk community. “Whenever we have a disease outbreak that can be prevented with a vaccine, that’s something we should do,” he said.

On the Maricopa County Department of Public Health’s website, there is a list of those considered to be at higher risk. The list includes:

  • Gay or bisexual men
  • Cis or transgender men
  • Transgender women
  • Anyone who lives with a person who has monkeypox
  • Health care providers who are likely to be exposed to monkeypox daily