(CBS) — There are three documented cases so far of the Zika virus surfacing in Illinois. One of them is a Romeoville woman in the early stages of pregnancy at the time of her diagnosis. She told her story to CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole.
“We actually found out two days before we left that we were expecting and that was a joy for us,” said Samantha Mejia.
For the Romeoville woman it was a trip three years in the making: Christmas in Honduras to visit her husband’s family.
“I had not heard of [Zika virus] until we actually got into Honduras and people were talking about it,” she said.
Mejia said she used bug spray to ward off virus spreading mosquitos but back in Illinois, the 30 year old in her first trimester began developing mild flu-like symptoms. As U.S. health experts shared more information on Zika’s connection to birth defects, Mejia was diagnosed with the virus.
“Everything that I had been seeing on the news and reports was happening in real time with what was happening to me personally,” Mejia said. “So much of it was they just don’t know.”
It’s unknown if Zika contributed to Mejia’s eventual miscarriage, but days later she took to Facebook to advocate for the women in Central and South America who can’t simply move away from the threat.
“What about all the women that live there now?” she said. “They can’t go anywhere. They have nowhere to go.”
Among those women is Samantha’s pregnant sister-in-law Noralee now diagnosed with Zika. Doctors monitor her condition, while in the U.S. Samantha urges Americans to stay calm.
“I would say don’t fear that and really put the effort and concern into working to find vaccines,” she said.
Samantha is asking the general public urge their congressional representatives to support a $1.8 billion Zika funding proposal and that we make donations to UNICEF which is working on ZIKA education and vaccine research.