First Zika virus patient in Indiana describes her experience, says she’d return to Haiti

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Dr. Barbara Ihrke

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 10, 2016)– A nursing instructor at Indiana Wesleyan University is the first Indiana resident to come down with the Zika virus.

Dr. Barbara Ihrke traveled to an island off the coast of Haiti last month to teach nursing students. That’s when she was bitten.

She took precautions by using mosquito spray. When she slept, she used screened windows.

“(Being bitten by a mosquito) just seemed to be inevitable,” she said.

Despite these precautions, she knew she was at risk because she witnessed people with the virus while she was there.

“Did I hear about Zika? I’m not 100 percent certain,” Ihrke said, “But when I got down there, there were several people who worked down there who had Zika. They had a rash. They had the conjunctivitis. I saw it when I was down there.”

She arrived home on Jan. 23, and was feeling ill.

“I came home on a Saturday, broke out in a rash on my face, trunk, arms and legs. I went to the health center at Indiana Wesleyan,” she said.

A blood draw was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and she was diagnosed with Zika virus.

Ihrke said her symptoms disappeared in a week. She wasn’t worried about spreading the virus since Indiana doesn’t have the certain type of mosquito that carries the virus. Even if we did, they wouldn’t be active during the winter.

“The unique thing about the mosquito that transmits it, it’s a day time mosquito. Wereas around here frequently you think of mosquitoes as evening or early morning. Down there they are daytime mosquitoes,” Ihrke said.

She said she would go back if she was called, but would join the CDC in cautioning against pregnant women traveling to the area.

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