Two in Johnson County contract painful mosquito-borne illness - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Two in Johnson County contract painful mosquito-borne illness

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Once isolated to the Caribbean, a painful mosquito virus is now a threat locally.

Two people in the metro have tested positive for chikungunya by their doctors but the state does not recognize the cases until further blood work is done and confirmed though the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Bob Pinker and Abby Larson, both of Olathe, say they were infected with the painful mosquito-borne illness while traveling to Haiti on a mission trip with a group of volunteers from their church.

One bite from the mosquito carrying it can bring paralyzing joint pain, rash and high fever for weeks or even months.

The danger at home, researchers say, will be when those travelers return to the United States, get bitten, and infect local mosquitoes causing it to spread.

"It doesn't kill you but the symptoms are such that you kind of wish you would die," said Advent Lutheran Church senior pastor Susan Langhauser. "We went down there on a purpose and nobody considered not going. It scared us, and we all went out and bought whatever we could to protect ourselves."

Kansas State University researchers say a quarter of a million people have been infected in the Caribbean recently, and of those, 21 died from it.

Experts said there is no vaccine to prevent chikungunya, but people can protect themselves by wearing bug spray, long sleeves and pants and staying in places that have air conditioning or with window and door screens.

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