Aplastic Anemia and Zika Virus: An Important Story That Will Shake Your Core

I recently read an article about a 22-year-old man from Utah who’d just returned from a missionary service in Brazil and was diagnosed with aplastic anemia.

This is so sad and something I think should have been prevented somehow; it’s just that the prevention aspect is, well, impossible? And that’s a big problem!

Today, fewer than 1000 people are diagnosed with aplastic anemia—men, women, children, and adults. It’s just too many people, and a number that I think is increasing.

Like many “kids” his age, this young man was filled with hope and optimism about getting on with his life–ya know, dating, starting a career, etc. He seemed like a typical young kid. But when he began to feel fatigued and kind of dizzy, he realized he couldn’t just buck it up, especially when he got so dizzy that he passed out. He told his dad who got him to a doctor.

The doctor ran some standard blood work and said he’d get back to the family in a few days. There was some initial speculation of the flu, but when the blood work results came back, the doctor wasted no time calling the father.

The young man had extremely low hematocrit; the score was an 11 when an average healthy man’s range should be around 45.

The doctor had told the father that his son was in grave condition, and that if he had even a simple accident, he probably wouldn’t survive. He’d most likely bleed out and die!

This isn’t the first story I’ve heard involving an otherwise young and healthy “kid” who’s suddenly stricken with aplastic anemia.

Looking back, the young man and his family initially thought he had dengue fever, which I believe is transmitted by mosquitoes. The young man believes this to be the case because he’d contracted a fever which made every bone, muscle, and cell of his being ache wretchedly.

But that’s not all, folks!

No, there’s that all-too-familiar link to exposure to chemicals. How? Apparently Brazilians, like a lot of Miamians (thanks to the Zika virus), are spraying the hell out of the environment to kill those bloody mosquitoes.

Fortunately, the young man and his family are trying to fight back to get a much-needed stem cell transplant, which is the ONLY cure for aplastic anemia!

Ironically, as I’m writing this, I’m on a plane headed to Brazil, and I’m not too keen about it. I just hope the young man from Utah survives and that, somehow, somebody will finally prove that many cases of aplastic anemia are caused from chemical exposure in the environment and be able to do something to stop this!

Alisha Stone

Alisha Stone

Alisha Stone has a BA in psychology and is dedicated to improving the lives of others living with chronic illnesses.

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