>> When I took a one year post as Reuters' Puerto Rico Bureau Chief pale gringo that I am I thought my biggest health concern maybe I'll get a sunburn, think again. I'm Nick Brown with Reuters here in San Juan and in June doctors confirmed that, sure enough, I had Zika.
Now, symptoms of the virus are actually pretty minor in adults, a lot of people don't even know they have it. At worst you might get like a mild flu. For me, though, I went through a couple of pretty rough weeks, I got symptoms that came in stages. First, sore throat, then fever, night sweats, chills, then a skin rash, then joint pain, pain behind the eyes.
Pain also in a particularly male region, which I heard from doctors affects men with Zika because it seeks out isolated parts of the body where white blood cells can't easily get to. Then when I thought I was out of the woods, in the third week, the symptoms came back again.
I didn't get tested in Puerto Rico. With the economic crisis, medical care has become a little bit unpredictable. I've had a lot of long waits. I've had a lot of doctors refuse my corporate health insurance. I figured best to go home to New York and get tested there, but even that process was not quite so smooth.
My doctor had to sit on hold with the New York City Health Department to get permission to test me, because at the time only public labs were running the tests. I'm now part of a study run by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It seeks to learn how often men shed Zika in urine and semen.
The study's a little bit awkward. I do have to produce semen and urine samples every two weeks and FedEx it to the CDC in exchange for a $50 gift card. But I endure it because I really wanna learn how the virus works its way through me and I also wanna be part of something that helps future Zika patients maybe cope with the disease a little bit better.
Because let's face it, Zika can be a devastating illness for certain people, especially for pregnant women. The only scar I have is some emotional unrest and a new nickname, Zika face, courtesy of my lovely wife. Otherwise, I'm fine and I know that some people aren't so lucky.