A former Hollyoaks actress believes that the Zika virus left her in a wheelchair and caused her to miscarry her unborn baby.
Kelly-Marie Stewart, who starred in the Channel 4 soap between 2009-2010 as Zak Ramsey’s younger sister Hayley Ramsey, claims she contracted the disease while on holiday.
The 32 year old had travelled to the popular British tourist destination of the Dominican Republic nine years ago.
The ex-Ryanair air hostess told the Liverpool Echo; ‘I went on holiday for 2 weeks and while there I came down with flu symptoms, I was aching all over.’
Recent evidence has shown that there is a link between Zika and Guillain-Barré syndrome, and now Kelly-Marie has said that she must have been affected by the virus.
‘I put it down to picking up a bug, but I was covered from head to toe in mosquito bites – I looked like a Lion bar.’
On her return she was diagnosed with the Guillain-Barré syndrome, which causes paralysis, completely losing the use of her legs aged 21.
Not only was Kelly-Marie confined to a wheelchair from then on but she tragically miscarried her 16-week-old baby; ‘I was 16 weeks pregnant, and two days before flying out I’d had my scan and everything was fine.’
Kelly-Marie defied the odds, and is now able to walk using two crutches
After she returned from her two-week break doctors at the Aintree Hospital placed her in an isolation room; ‘I went in on the Wednesday and on the Friday I started with pains, I told them I was miscarrying.
‘I was convinced that whatever was going on with me had affected the baby. It was hard to deal with because I was going through one lot of emotions because I’d lost the baby, but everything was about me being ok.’
Kelly-Marie was kept in hospital for 10 months, during that time her weight plummeted from 9 stone down to a dangerous 5 stone because she was bed-bound by her paralysis.
The Liverpool-born star now has a daughter, Daisie and got married in July 2015 to her long-term partner James Loveday.
Kelly-Marie is now urging pregnant women to not travel to countries currently affected by a large outbreak of Zika.
Official advice is that pregnant women are advised to postpone non-essential travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission.