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Possible HSV infection and worry about second vaccine dose

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Dear folks,

Towards the end of August, I had a sexual experience with a new partner (who complained of soreness in her vagina during intercourse) and a couple of days later I started to feel unwell. My symptoms started off with genital discomfort/pain/burning and progressed into abdominal pain, body aches, fever, nausea, oral thrush, blisters in month (whitish in colour, yellow and smaller which turned into ulcers, blood blisters), shooting pain in legs and buttocks, testicular pain, red and inflamed tip of penis, and soreness in the urethra and prostrate. I have continued to have many of these symptoms for the almost two and half months since the initial infection, particularly the red and inflamed penis tip, soreness in the urethra and prostrate and reoccurring mouth ulcers and sores. More recently, I have developed a stiff/sore neck and a bit of a sensitivity to light, which makes me concerned about possible meningitis related to this infection. I have been back and forth from my GP and the sexual health clinic, but they have been unable to give me a concrete diagnosis. The sexual health clinic swabbed a couple of the mouth ulcers that I had but the results came back negative. The clinics in the UK do not do the HSV blood test so they require open sores to make a diagnosis. I haven't had any ulcers or sores in my genital region so far but continue to feel a lot of discomfort on the end of my penis and in my urethra. The sexual health clinic asserted that I have balanitis and gave me some anti-steroidal cream, which I've used on it without much relief.

I guess my question is do you think that I have experienced an HSV2 infection? If so, I feel like I've contracted it both orally and genitally... I used a condom during sexual intercourse with this woman, but I did give her unprotected oral sex and we did a bit of unprotected dry humping...

Also, I have been barely sleeping since my late August infection, which is almost two and half months ago, and I'm scheduled to get my second dose of the Moderna vaccine on Monday. I'm really worried about the vaccine might trigger this infection further. I really don't want any nerve damage to happen. Is it possible to get post-herpetic neuralgia from an HSV infection? If so, do you think that getting this vaccine will further trigger this infection? Tests at my GP found that my white blood cell count is on the lower end of the "normal" spectrum. Another piece of information that may be useful is that I have been vegan for the past 12 years. 

Unfortunately, I am not getting the clarity around what is happening to me after constantly engaging with the UK healthcare system for over two months, so I am trying to make my way back to Canada to seek further medical help. However, I have been urged by my parents to get my second COVID vaccine before I return to safeguard myself from COVID and avoid the mandatory 14 day quarantine upon return. The first shot that I got caused a high fever and severe arm pain, which swelled up. This shot was in late July prior to this sexual interaction that has led to this cascade of health issues.

All advice is welcome. I'm really struggling here and do not want to feel any worse than I already am. Thanks in advance for the support, folks.

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I guess I should also mention that the doctors have been insisting that these symptoms are related to my poor mental health, but I feel like this is a form of gaslighting, since my mental health began to deteriorate AFTER the physical symptoms showed up.

I have been experiencing chronice pain and discomfort for the past two and a half months. 😭 How is this happening to me?! I'm so sad and depressed.

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I am cooking dinner for my family at the moment and am also running out the door to grab a pizza 😂 but I wanted to let you know I will respond to your post soon, I just wanted to have time to sit down and really answer your questions!!

Please know that it will be okay 🌻 I am praying for you! 

Be kind to yourself 💗

I'll reply back soon!! 

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Sorry for the delayed reply!

Thank you for sharing your story with us.  I am so sorry about the mental and physical pain you have been experiencing for months. That is truly terrible. You don't deserve this at all! 

The symptoms you are describing sound like much more than balanitis, as they include neurological symptoms, such as the shooting pains and sensitivity to light. The inflammation, swelling, redness, and pain in the genitals indicate some sort of infection or inflammatory response. The stiffness of the neck and sensitivity to light does sound like meningitis or mononucleosis; have you been tested for either of these? 

The fact that the symptoms have persisted for months is not good at all, and obviously indicates that something else is going on. 

Have you been tested for syphilis? Syphilis has 4 stages, and the symptoms you are describing line up with stages 1-2, although usually symptoms don't appear for a while, as symptoms can even occur years after contracting it! However, it's worth getting tested. Syphilis also can lead to aseptic meningitis, which is life-threatening. 

From all these symptoms, especially the stiffness of neck, sensitivity to light, and continued inflammation, it really sounds like there is an infection present in the body. It would be a great idea to get a spinal tap done, as it shows possible infection in the central nervous system. This is a great diagnostic tool to test for syphilis and other neurological illness indicators. A blood test also would be helpful. 

Also, you should get tested for Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and Cytomegalovirus (CMV), as they can cause oral rashes/sores and impact the nervous system, too. 

In terms of herpes... Your symptoms could be herpes related, but the fact that these symptoms have been occuring for months is a red flag even if this is HSV. Also, did you happen to take antivirals, and of so, did you notice any improvement? 

I hope that this all helps. I really do reccomend getting tested for Mononucleosis, Meningitis, EBV, CMV, Syphilis, and even getting a spinal tap to help get a clear diagnosis. You don't deserve to be in pain! Advocate for yourself to doctors-- you deserve to get a diagnosis and clarity! 

IMPORTANT!:   While I am a huge supporter of the vaccine, you may want to push off the second vaccine dose and reschedule it, as introducing another dose of a virus into your body while it is obviously struggling to fight off some sort of infection is not a good idea, especially since your neck is stiff (stiff neck indicates infection and possible lymph node swelling, and you do NOT want to overwork your immune system!!!). Before getting the second vaccine dose, you really want to check and see what virus or bacterial infection you may have. Your body is showing a major response and introducing the next covid vaccine may really really cause suffering and am overworking of the body. Get those tests, try to get a diagnosis, and make sure symptoms improve before getting that vaccine. 

Note: I am NOT a medical doctor! I would definitely consult a virologist and neurologist in Canada or the UK (wherever you will be, and get a referral from your doctor if needed) and talk to them about testing, symptoms, etc. Ask them about the vaccine and what they reccomend and express your concerns and ask questions! Your health matters! Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself! 🌄

I am praying for you. If you need any support or just someone to talk to, feel free to reach out or post on the forum. 

You are not alone 💛.

Be kind to yourself and try to get some rest. Document symptoms, make sure you're eating and drinking fluids, and get those tests/see a virologist/neurologist ASAP!!

Sending Blessings of health and happiness your way 🌄!

-- Grace




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@Flowerteacher55 Thank you so much for your thorough reply.

I have done the standard blood and urine tests for syphilis, HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia multiple times (taking into consideration the incubation period for syphilis and HIV) and all the tests have come back negative. I also went into the doctor this past week to investigate whether I have meningitis. They did some physical tests (such as looked in my ears, got me to touch my chin to my chest, etc.) and said I do not have this, but honestly it was very thorough. I have not been tested for Mononucleosis, Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and Cytomegalovirus (CMV). The infection in my neck, spine and head is definitely on the lower grade side of things, but it is still very troubling. What I feel it might be is the HSV2 virus settling into my nervous system towards the top of my spine, since I think I've contracted it both genitally AND orally from this person.

The problem is that I must head back home to Canada soon and I require the second vaccine for travelling purposes. I could MAYBE put it off a week, but I also have my graduation ceremony this next weekend, which will be packed with people and a potential coronavirus spreader event. My first dose of the vaccine was Moderna, which doesn't introduce a new virus to the system but RNA material to fight potential infection. I am really worried about getting it though. Many countries (Japan and some Nordic countries) have banned its use for people under 30 because of severe reactions and I tried to convince the UK health authorities to allow me to get Pfizer for my second shot.

I would like to see a specialist here, but the system is so difficult to navigate and the doctors just keep telling me that my illness is mental health related. I'm really frustrated with the whole situation. I just keep getting bounced back and forth between the sexual health clinic and my GP. 😕

Anyway, thanks for your thoughts and prayers. Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.


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Oh gosh, that's wonderful that those tests all came back negative! I actually had mononucleosis two years ago, and I think I got it from being intimate with someone. The actually call mononucleosis "kissing disease" because it spreads that easily!! It's also common among college-aged people (since they live in close quarters and are often physically intimate with others, etc). Mononucleosis and Epstein Barr can cause swollen glands and neck issues, as well as neuropathy and nerve pain. Getting tested for those might give some answers, but those still don't explain the STI symptoms.

Contracting HSV at two sites definitely could cause your symptoms, as oral and genital HSV primary symptoms can include gland swelling, flu-like symptoms, and the skin rash symptoms you have described. So, it could be a very extreme primary response to having contracted the virus. 

I'm sorry that the healthcare in the UK isn't as helpful as is needed. There have been many other people on the forum who have described similar issues with access to testing in the UK. 

Since you are still showing symptoms, you could see if you. Would get an IgM test when you get back to Canada. Then when you reach the 12 weeks mark, get the IgG. 

Of course, you can only get to Canada if you get your second dose, which bring me to my next point to address! 

I completely forgot that the Moderna vaccine is not the weakened virus, but programmed mRNA code. That's actually great, because perhaps it won't worsen symptoms too badly; plus your body already has received the first shot. Did you have any adverse reactions to the first shot? 

What you may need is to take Tylenol or Motrin (ask a doctor, or your primary care doctor if you can call them from the UK, what they reccomend before taking it) the first few days after getting the shot, and it might help ease the symptoms you are already experiencing. Obviously, you don't want to fully mask symptoms, especially a fever if you have one, since that can be very dangerous. Then, when you get back to Canada, you can make an appointment with your primary care doctor ASAP (hopefully before graduation, and congrats on graduating 🎓!). 

I hope this all helps!! 

Sending Blessings your way 🌄

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