Saturday, June 9, 2018

Tune of the Unknown Virus

June 9, 2019

By Anna Morris, Editor, Freedom Fighters of America

     Have you or your friends and family been diagnosed with, "an unknown virus" with peculiar, flu-like symptoms that hang on for weeks or even months? Do you know people who never completely recover? Perhaps they have lingering fatigue, recurrent fevers, irritable bowels, continuing respiratory problems and other symptoms of illness? 


    I had a very serious unknown "virus" from April to November last year. "Virus" is in quotes because that is the medical providers' best guess. Nobody seems to be watching these outbreaks, there are no diagnostic techniques and so best guessing is as good as it gets. My favourite label is, "an unknown virus we have never seen before," spoken by ER personnel, accompanied by a grimace and shudder. Such was the opinion of the outbreak of 2017. 

     The unknown virus comment is usually followed with, "it is making a lot of people in the community really sick for a really long time." Welcome to Twenty-First Century medicine at its finest when a disease crops up that no one has ever seen before. Officially, it seems, nobody cares.

     For a couple years I have been caring for a family member. Mostly we stay to ourselves but in April, 2017 we stupidly went to lunch with a friend. One of the few restaurants open on a Sunday was a gymnasium sized, big-box store thing with a format for children. No less than four birthday parties for grade schoolers were in progress when we arrived and kids were practically climbing the walls. "This would be a great place to catch the flu," I thought, but nonetheless we bravely chose a table for three and stumbled over the kids on our way to the taco buffet.

     About 48 hours later my family member coughed rhythmically all night, dry and not deep, like a huff, huff, huff, hour after hour, uninterrupted throughout the night. Fever was noted the next day. Another 48 hours passed and I awoke with a fever of 102.3 degrees F, laid on the couch and scarcely got up for the next 32 days. 

     Keeping the story shorter, my relative and I both ended up in a care center though strings had to be pulled for me to enter because I am yet middle aged and not elderly. I had gotten to the point where, after almost six weeks of debilitating, unremitting illness, I could no longer care for myself.  (The local hospital is only "acute access" or whatever it is called so sick people are seldom admitted unless they have had an emergency and six weeks of illness does not constitute an emergency!)

     My elderly relative fared much better than me but I have a long history of difficulties--including partial paralysis and permanent nerve damage--from viral illnesses. Last year's unknown virus nobody had ever seen before, attacked both respiratory and digestive functions. I coughed up the last bloody scabs--from bronchial tubes?-- in November. I refuse to describe what happened to my digestive organs though keeping with the bloody scab description, there was an onset of irritable bowel issues which finally resolved last October.

     An alternate catch-all medical term for previously unseen and unknown viruses is "flu". As in, "you have the flu and we can't do anything for it so go home." During the illness last year I went to doctors a number of times. ER doctors did a test for flu which I would liken to having a tampon with long strings shoved up your nose and into your throat so it can scrape something off your tonsils if you have any. They said the test was negative for flu but that the test was extremely inaccurate so it might not mean anything anyway.

     Roughly, every 20 years of my life I have had "flu" which damaged my nervous system. For years I lived with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis due to some of this lingering damage. So I assumed last year's disaster was just one of those episodes and I should be safe for another 20 years. WRONG!

     Six weeks ago my patient urgently needed a new medication which the pharmacy finally filled around closing time. It appears that EVERYBODY decides to pick up their meds after work in the evening. I waited 30 minutes in a very long line, breathing stuffy, sweaty, germ laden air in a big box store packed cheek to jowl with late shoppers.  Twenty-four hours later I experienced severe fatigue but no other signs of illness. I had not been around people or in a public place for more than five days prior to being at the pharmacy and I did not touch anything but my credit card and the sack with medicine, so I assume I inhaled the destructive virus while standing in line.

     After I had several days of severe fatigue, my relative had urine the color of Coca Cola, profuse vomiting and a bright scarlet rash on all body parts but hands, feet and head. (I note that distinction because there is an enteroviral viral disease called Hand Foot and Mouth and those are the places where rash appears. Apparently whatever we have had was not HFM.) My relative's regular doctor ordered a trip to the ER for "observation" and since all tests came back OK, the diagnosis was "probably a virus" due to the rash and "probably a stomach bug" due to the vomiting.

     We went home, went to bed, had fevers of 101.2  and barely got up for four days. When I had to get up I made sure to feed and hydrate my patient who was too weak to hold a spoon. After seven days my patient got better and I got worse. My patient then slept for the next 20 days, getting up in the morning, going back to sleep in a recliner, then getting up to go back to bed. 

     For me, this year is a repeat of the last but not quite as bad. Nerves on the right side of my face which were damaged during a viral infection in 1994 are affected again. In the first week there were stabbing, crushing, tearing pains in my chest, limbs and face. Over 30 days later my right eyelid still flutters at odd times. My lungs and digestive system from throat to stomach and beyond all feel like they are on fire. It is hard to eat because I feel like I have been slugged in the gut with a big fist and I am losing weight. Other symptoms I will not describe. I started guzzling Pepto Bismol to put out the fire, something that has helped in the past. 

     If this was merely a personal story, it would not matter.  Both last year and this, medical staff have said there were "unknown" viral illnesses sickening "lots of people in the community" for "really long periods of time, weeks or even months in some cases." So what are these devastating illnesses? What is being done about them? Apparently nothing! Since most viruses cannot be effectively treated or identified, medical practice throws up its collective hands, gives palliative or emergency care as needed and if the patient remains ill too long, said patient is shipped off to a psychiatrist.

     A defensive argument from the medical "community" would be that few if any people actually die from these unknown viruses. Well, maybe some really old people in nursing homes die from these virus outbreaks but anything could kill them and they were going to die anyway. (Back in 1994 when I was so ill, the hometown paper scarcely had room to print the obituaries of nursing home patients who died one after the other. A patient in one of these homes later told me how terrible the virus had been!)

     Recent scholarly articles on any medical subject seem to have a requirement to describe whatever disease in terms of "global burden" and cost, direct and indirect such as lost wages and productivity. I wonder what is the "global burden" of these un-tracked, unknown virus caused diseases from which some people never fully recover? Last year it was said  that workers in one of the few local industries were especially hard hit with the mystery virus, many allegedly off work for up to six weeks. God help minimum wage earners one paycheck away from homelessness.

     My friends and I sometimes remember the diseases we encountered as kids back in the 60's and 70's. As we remember it there were colds, flu and "stomach flu". Mostly we remember that people used to get well after a week or so and what the heck is going on now when people get something that acts like the flu but never goes away? A few of my friends have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome following mystery infections. Some of them are applying for disability and living in poverty. All because of viral diseases? Nobody knows.

     The fact that my relative had a massive, scarlet red petechial rash, urine the color of Coke and digestive symptoms which garnered a diagnosis of "probable virus", "probably stomach bug" at the ER, could demonstrate that the infection was an enterovirus. There are hundreds of these relatives of the poliovirus we have largely eradicated globally. They include echovirus, Coxsackie virus and the dreaded EV-D68 that has crippled perhaps 100 children in the U.S. in recent years. 
     Let's look at Coxsackie virus, named for a town in New York state of that name. Once upon a time outbreaks of debilitating illness were investigated.

     "In the summer of 1947 there were several small outbreaks of poliomyelitis in upstate New York," says an article in virology blog, Gilbert Dalldorf and his associate Grace M. Sickles of the Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany New York collected fecal samples, injected mice and found a new virus which was subsequently named for the town where the outbreak occurred. This particular, nasty little bug caused paralysis by damaging muscles rather than the nerves attacked by regular poliovirus, according to the blog. 

     Enteroviruses like Coxsackie are also suspected of causing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) aka myalgic encephalomyelitis  (ME). At there is a list of mysterious worldwide outbreaks of ME and CFS, starting in the 1930's.

     Jane Colby a British former Head Teacher and author wrote ME - The New Plague. At it says, " In the 1980s, Jane was severely disabled with MR due to a virus related to polio." On another page at this site "Read the Latest Episode", the heading asks, "Is ME New Variant Polio?" Describing the discovery of the Coxsackie virus Jane writes, "The disease was considered to be Atypical Polio, because its symptoms identified it as a kind of polio despite the virus being apparently different." Please check out Jane Colby's information at the site listed above, which I believe is a current online reissue of her book.

     I started out describing my past two years' experience with "unknown virus" diagnoses. Since no testing has been available I cannot say that my relative or I actually have enterovirus though we have both been diagnosed with a probable viral stomach bug which coincidentally is said to be making a lot of local folks really sick for weeks or months. My relative and I have both had respiratory symptoms along with the digestive illness. I still have neurological complications, pain and twitching in my face. This is the third incidence in my life of an unidentified virus causing long term disability, with the first time in 1994 having done neurological damage that for years resembled MS. If I live the average lifespan of my family I will probably live another 30 years. Unknown viruses have taken at least one of those years and that is too much.

     What could or should medical science be doing? It amazes me how our "transformed", Obamatized medical system, now called "health care", is intent on tracking our personal habits while it does not seem to give a flying flip about emerging viruses. The record keeping system is dependent upon smoking status, whether a patient has EVER smoked, or ever consumed more alcohol than government allows in pursuit of low costs and optimum health. The people are being watched but the viruses are not in my opinion. Get one of these weird viruses and you are on your own. If you get sick enough you will be sent to a psychiatrist. Or as Jane Colby writes, "...when the world was young and CFS wasn't even a gleam in a psychiatrist's eye." 

     In my opinion medical science should think back to the "Spanish Flu" pandemic of 1918-1920. People who have studied this believe the virus first passed through the population in 1917. When it recirculated in 1918 it was extremely deadly, eventually killing 50 to 100 million people around the globe. With the advent of DNA and all our other marvelous laboratory tools, modern investigators were hard put to obtain biological samples from the time. Great efforts were even made to dig up mass graves from areas of permafrost in order to collect needed samples. The driving questions were, what was it and could it happen again?

    What about the unknown viral diseases of today which severely damage some patients? What if those viruses are all related to poliovirus? The stakes were raised quite a bit when EV-D68 started crippling children. What if the "unknown virus" of today, which causes weeks or months of suffering for many, comes back next year as an epidemic causing severe disability or mortality? It has been said that a really successful plague virus of the future would have to pass as easily as the flu. Enteroviruses, though they have an affinity for our bowels, at least some can be acquired by inhaling aerosolized droplets, a fancy term for a cough or sneeze. ( , Enterovirus D68 Infection, 2015 Nov)

     Wouldn't it make sense right now for doctors to collect biological evidence and store it in case something like atypical polio fatally attacks the global population in the future? How much would it cost to collect and store throat or nasal swabs and selected body fluids during the peculiar outbreaks of these unknown viruses nobody has ever seen before? Toss the specimens in a vat of liquid nitrogen and they would be ready for future analysis. 

     In 1994 I begged doctors to find out what had made me so sick and they sent me to a psychiatrist. For years after that I raged and read everything I could find about similar outbreaks of viral disease and then decided I could live with the damage to my body, while reasoning I was better off than several people in my area who were severely crippled during viral infections that year. I was willing to write off last year's debilitating agony as an aberration unlikely to repeat but what about this year and what about all the other people who are said to be very sick with this viral "stomach bug" of 2018? I for one am sick and chronically fatigued, so to speak, of these stealth viruses that cause illness without recovery. Many other viral victims share this view!

     It is high time for "public health" to listen to suffering patients, to stop dumping damaged people on the psychiatric profession, and to start tracking viruses. Otherwise tomorrow's deadly plague will come and government health care will be caught with its head in the sand mumbling, "huh, what....we never saw it coming...."



If you have had any of these mystery viruses, have CFS/ME or know someone who has, please DO check out Jane Colby's online book ME - The New Plague at . (For some reason when I go there my server says the page cannot be found and then it miraculously appears.)

Let us educate ourselves, fight to be taken seriously and bring pressure on the medical powers that be, to get these unknown viruses identified and stopped.

Your comments below are very welcome!

Thank you.

Freedom Fighters Of America