Minn. Doctor Contracts Chikungunya Virus while in Haiti

Updated: 06/16/2014 6:29 PM
Created: 06/16/2014 5:01 PM
By: Jessica Miles

A virus passed to humans by mosquitoes is causing new concern in Minnesota.

A pediatric emergency medicine doctor caught the virus while on a volunteer trip to Haiti last month.

Jen Halverson says she started having a high fever, headache, and debilitating pain in her joints, which is the hallmark symptom of the Chikungunya virus.

"It was really difficult to move without severe pain. I've had a broken bone before; this was more severe than a broken bone. The Haitians are calling this the fever that breaks your bones, and for good reason," Halverson said.

Since arriving in the Caribbean Islands there have been more than 135,000 cases, and 20,000 people a week are contracting it in the Dominican Republic, said Pat Walker with HealthPartners Travel and Tropical Medicine Center.

"We're seeing more people with joint pain that lasts for weeks or months," Walker said.

It's not contracted from person to person, only by mosquitoes.

Those mosquitoes aren't here in Minnesota, but they are in the southern United States.

Symptoms come on within three to seven days of being bitten and generally last a week.

The good news is that the virus is rarely fatal.



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