Minn. woman contracts mosquito virus in Haiti

BLOOMINGTON, Minn.-- Jennifer Halverson has been working and living in Haiti on and off since the 90's. But this year the doctor became a patient herself after a visit in May.

"I got sick with very classic chikungunya symptoms," Halverson said.

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that causes severe joint pain lasting for months. The mosquito that carries the virus is not in Minnesota but has spread rapidly in places like Haiti and the Caribbean Islands where many Minnesotans go on mission trips and vacations. Doctors like Dr. Pat Walker with HealthPartners travel and tropical Medicine, are cautioning visitors to be aware.

"People travel and they are back home in a few hours from a Caribbean trip and may be sick themselves," Walker said.

Symptoms usually surface in three to seven days and include a high fever, rash and arthritis like pain. Dr. Havlerson said she was in bed for three days and took pain killers but her body still ached.

"I've broken bones before and this is more painful than a broken bone. It was some of the worse pain I've ever experienced," she said.

There is no cure for this virus so if you are planning to travel to the infected areas the Centers for Disease Control suggests using DEET repellents and wearing long sleeve shirts and pants outdoors.


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