Tuttle, OK, Missionary Diagnosed With Zika Virus

Monday, February 8th 2016, 7:05 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

A Tuttle woman has been diagnosed with Zika virus. She's currently a missionary living in Haiti, and that's where she contracted Zika.

The virus is spread by primary by mosquitoes. There are no known cases in Oklahoma. It's a growing rapidly problem however in South and Central America.

2/8/2016 Related Story: OK Missionary Being Treated For Zika Virus In Haiti To Speak During Conference

23-year-old Lauren Steverson had been working as a missionary in Haiti for just two weeks when she contracted the Zika virus.

“At first it started out as a fever and that happened during the night,” she explained Monday during a phone call from Haiti.  “When I woke up the next morning I had kind of a bad headache, probably on a scale of one to ten probably about a six and a little bit of back pain.”

But she took some Tylenol and kept doing her missionary work.  However, by the end of the day, a rash had begun spreading all over her body.

“At first it was kind of alarming, but I was lucky enough to know somebody who has already had it and seen it kind of run its course,” she said.

For Steverson, doctors say the virus isn't dangerous. The concern is for women who get the virus while pregnant can have babies with small heads and brains, and they typically don't live for very long.  The CDC is recommending pregnant women postpone travel to the areas where Zika is spreading.

But now that the virus has run its course, doctors believe any children Steverson would have in the future would be fine.

“As far as anyone knows as soon as the virus is gone from you you’re fine, you could get pregnant and wouldn’t expect any problems,” explained Dr. Robert Welliver, OU Children’s Physicians infectious disease specialist.

Steverson said she's now feeling better and plans to return to Oklahoma in late March. Welliver said there's no reason to believe she would be contagious at that time.

There is new evidence that the virus can live in semen for several months and could be spread sexually, so doctors do recommend pregnant women who are having sex with partners who have been to affected areas to take precautions and abstain from sex or use a condom.

Click here to learn more information about the Zika virus