After becoming infected in 2002 with three distinct strains of Enteroviruses, Andrea has dedicated much of her time and effort to researching EV infections, as well as helping patients who are struggling with the disease.
Andrea led the Coxsackievirus B Research project at Gilead Sciences, where she recruited CFS patients to undergo endoscopies. The study validated that CFS patients have a large amount of EV protein in their stomachs, whereas controls did not. She now uses the internet to share her research with EV patients and their healthcare providers.
Andrea resides in Hermosa Beach, California with her husband and three children.
How I became sick
In June 2002, Andrea contracted a serious respiratory infection. The symptoms persisted into July.....headache, fever, sore throat, night sweats, abdominal pain, and muscle pain. On 7/15/02, Andrea ingested lobster that was clearly contaminated as it induced severe vomiting and diarrhea.
August 1 was the first visit to a doctor. Three separate physician visits later, they diagnosed her with bronchitis, prescribing 3 different antibiotics each time. Since symptoms still persisted after antibiotic therapy, a viral infection should have been suspected (not a bacteria).
Nine doctors later, and exhaustive test after test, Andrea was diagnosed with CFS, but she knew all too well that CFS was a syndrome....with no known cause and no known treatment.
Andrea then found Dr. John Chia through research he was conducting with her company, and on 9/11/02, she met him for the first time. He knew immediately that it was a possible Enterovirus infection, and was able to identify the 3 infecting strains in her body:
Echovirus 7, Echovirus 11, and Coxsackievirus B-4.
In 2003, an antiviral drug made by Viropharma called pleconaril became available through a compassionate use program for patients with serious EV infections. After taking pleconaril for only 1 week, Andrea's CVB-4 titers drop from 640 to 80 (an 8 fold drop). This proved that EV infections are treatable, but unfortunately, due to limited availability, as well as the dosing regimen, pleconaril could not maintain a sustained response. To view the published results, press here.
In 2004/2005, Andrea took pegylated interferon, which is a weekly injection for Hepatitis C Virus infection (another RNA virus). To reduce side effects, and improve tolerability, Zadaxin was also administered for a total of 14 months (60 weeks). The antibody titers of both Echo-7 and Echo-11 dropped significantly, but the reduction of Coxsackie B-4 antibodies was only sub-optimal. Please see the four year results of antibody titers below. To read more about using interferon for CFS, click here.
Twelve years later, Andrea is 75% recovered, but still has symptoms, and elevated antibodies to Coxsackie B-4. Antiviral treatment obviously helped, as did rest, diet, and acupuncture.
Andrea's mission continues to be helping patients cope with the disease, as many are misdiagnosed, and mistreated. Andrea also strives to increase awareness among the public and the pharmaceutical companies, so an antiviral treatment will be develped.
EV infection can be chronic, so patients must take every respiratory infecton seriously in order to recover normally. We must also be aware of the food and water we eat, to avoid ingesting enteroviruses.
Talk Radio One is a live radio show that hosts various speakers to educate, inform, and entertain the general public. Andrea appears as a guest on the July 12th show to discuss enteroviruses and how to prevent their transmission. To listen to Andrea's talk radio show, please press here.