Olivia Chow says she is suffering from the effects of a virus that is leaving her with little control over her facial muscles on the left side of her face.

Chow, an NDP MP for Toronto’s Trinity-Spadina riding, announced she is suffering from Ramsay Hunt syndrome type 2 Friday morning.

The virus is the same strand that produces chicken pox and shingles and has symptoms similar to Bell’s palsy. The virus affects facial nerves, making it hard for patients to move their face as they wish.

The effects of the virus are believed to be temporary.

In Chow’s case, it has affected the left side of her face, making it difficult for her to smile, laugh and put in her contact lens.

"While this is certainly an inconvenience, thankfully I received fast and effective treatment.,” she said in a news release sent to media Friday.  “Aside from facial weaknesses, I am now completely healthy. It will not affect my work as a Member of Parliament. I continue to swim, run, and bike regularly. You will just have to imagine that I am smiling.”

Chow is expected to answer questions from reporters about her condition at 1:30 p.m. from her constituency office on Augusta Ave.

 But in the news release, she said she is coping well and hoping for a quick recovery.

"I am learning to be patient as it will take time for my left facial nerves to fully recover,” she said. “It could take weeks, months or longer.”

"Overcoming challenges and adversity is something I have always done. This is no different. While I may have some difficulty smiling for a while, I will continue to work hard and have fun. And I look forward to pushing for more investment for transit and infrastructure in the upcoming Federal budget."

Chow, who started out her formal political career as a councillor in downtown Toronto,  is a well-liked political figure across the country.

She was married to former NDP Leader Jack Layton when he passed away in August 2011.

Most recently, Chow’s name has been brought up by political pundits and pollsters alike who have thrown her name out as a potential election rival for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

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