Women Infected With Zika Virus Recount Fatigue, Pain of Illness

Zika virus outbreak is ongoing in at least 24 countries/territories.

January 29, 2016, 1:38 PM

— -- Two women -- one in Houston and another in Brazil -- have spoken out about their experiences with the fever, rash and fatigue brought on by the Zika virus, shedding light on the disease that is quickly spreading throughout the Americas.

Jade Miranda, 21, is in the heart of the Zika outbreak in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She said she contracted the frightening disease last October when a rash started to cover her face, neck and chest.

"I started having a fever sensation, without a fever at this point. My eyes also got irritated," she told ABC News in an emailed response. "It was very strange, but since I was alone and my parents were out, I decided to wait to visit a doctor."

Eventually, Miranda went to the doctor with her parents, where she was diagnosed as having a Zika virus infection. Miranda, who was not pregnant, said in addition to the fever, rash and eye irritation, she started to feel extreme fatigue.

"For the whole week, I had mild fever and the joint and muscle pain became stronger. I couldn’t move or close my hands very well and my felt legs weak," she told ABC News. "The pain lasted for more than a week, but after the first week I almost didn’t feel any pain."

Miranda said she knew about the outbreak before she became sick but that it was difficult to constantly protect herself with mosquito repellent.

"I use repellent when I remember, but it’s really hard because it only lasts for a few hours, and where I live and study there are a lot of mosquitoes," she said.

Miranda's story is similar to the story of Lizzie Morales, of Houston, Texas, who told ABC's Houston station KTRK-TV that she was infected with Zika when she was in El Salvador to visit family for Christmas. She said initially the fatigue made doing even simple tasks difficult.

"You have no strength or energy to sit down. You just want to lay down and sleep," she said.

A few days into her illness, Morales said said she developed a serious rash that covered her body.

"Christmas Eve, I was scratching," Morales told KTRK-TV. "My chest, bumps on my lips, eyes, ears."

Morales said she started going to the beach to use the salt water to relieve pain and itching from her rash. Unfortunately she ended up with nausea and vomiting at the end of her illness. She said she hadn't realized how a big a deal the virus was until she came back and saw news reports.

"It's crazy," Morales said. "I was hearing El Salvador, Brazil and I'm like, wow, it's big."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Zika virus symptoms usually last less than a week and include fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other symptoms include joint pain. Only one out of five people infected show symptoms. The disease is often mild and rarely requires hospitalization. There is currently no treatment or cure.

"It's very rare for a person with Zika to get seriously ill or die," explained Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, in a call to reporters on Thursday. "But increasing lines of evidence suggest that some women who are infected with Zika during their pregnancy may go on to deliver a baby with a serious brain injury."

A rare birth defect called microcephaly has been associated with the virus, which appeared in Brazil last May. More than 4,000 Brazilian infants have been reported to have the condition. The virus is almost always spread through mosquito bites and is not spread person to person.

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