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Zika victim shares her experience during return to Sarasota

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — Kendra Francois used to live in Sarasota, but is now a missionary in Haiti. She’s lived in Haiti for 30 years and has been diagnosed with the Zika virus.

The country is poor and the government is unstable, so she says there mosquito control services in the country are unreliable. In recent months, Francois says Haitians became aware of the spread of this disease. “Someone had mentioned that there was a new mosquito disease called Zika,” recalled Francois.

She says that sometime in January, she contracted the disease from a mosquito bite and she soon started experiencing symptoms. She developed a fever, a rash on her chest. She said, “Lots of aches and pains and under my feet were really achy and sore, I couldn’t walk very well.”

“I couldn’t do anything, I felt like an old lady. I really did,” said Francois. “It was painful to walk, painful to hold anything and just to do everyday things, it was very uncomfortable.”

Francois says the symptoms lasted for about a week, but it took a while to completely recover. She said, “Feelings of weakness lasted probably another 3, 4 months after that.”

But, she doesn’t think people should panic. “I don’t think it’s anything to be scared about,” said Francois.

She recommends that people just remain alert and take protective measures when outside. “[Don’t] be afraid, If you have it just slow down a little bit and you’ll get through it,” said Francois.On Monday, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that  mosquitoes are blamed for 14 Zika cases in Florida. Government health officials are warning that pregnant women should avoid travel to a Zika-stricken part of Miami and they’re urging expectant mothers who frequent the neighborhood to get tested for the virus

In the meantime, Sarasota County Mosquito management is taking proactive measures to protect local residents. Director Matt Smith expects the virus will be contracted by a Sarasota resident. “We suspect it’ll happen eventually, it’s happening all over the place and so we want to be ready for that,” said Smith.

So, Sarasota County has received a vial of the Zika virus from the CDC. It is the genetic material of the virus, and the mosquito management will use it to test mosquitoes for the disease. “We want to be proactive,” said Smith. “We don’t want things to get out of hand.”

If ZIka is detected in the area, mosquito control will take mosquitoes for sampling and test them for the virus. Previously it would take three to five days to receive the results. But now that the test can be done in Sarasota, the results can come within 24 hours.

Officials at Sarasota County Mosquito management are currently upgrading their facilities and they expect to be ready to test mosquitoes for Zika sometime in the next two months.RELATED

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