DENVER- A former Denver City Councilwoman went on a family vacation to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico recently and returned with a Zika infection.
Even though there weren't many mosquitoes, Susan Shepard did get a few bites.
“There was one particular bite when I was there that was, you know, more swollen and more itchy and kind of lingered longer,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd didn't think much of it. But on a plane ride back to reality a headache set in and worsened the next day. Symptoms would become even worse than that.
“A few days later, I broke out in a rash all over my body. The day after that I had some extremely bad joint pain in both my feet as well as my hands that lasted for about four days,” she said.
Shepherd eventually wound up at the hospital, where a blood test confirmed that the mosquito gave her Zika.
“Colorado’s climate is a little too cold and we are a little too far north for the normal habitat of the mosquitos that transmit Zika,” Dr. Ken Tyler who studies the virus at the CU School of Medicine said. “Zika is usually a pretty mild infection. So the real concern has been in the risk to pregnant women.”
Most people infected with Zika never show symptoms. Those who do usually get rid of the symptoms in a couple weeks. Pregnant women have to worry because Zika can cause microcephaly in the fetus, sometimes creating newborns with deformities.
“It was uncomfortable and I certainly would not want to experience it again,” Shepherd said.
But this mild infection won’t stop her from returning.
Dr. Tyler says people need to be aware of Zika when they travel. Zika can also be sexually transmitted so people coming back home from those areas should avoid sex for about eight weeks.