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Utah man recalls contracting Zika virus while serving LDS mission

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Posted at 7:25 PM, Mar 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-07 21:33:35-05

LOGAN, Utah – As the Zika Virus continues to spread throughout the world, a former missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is talking about his personal battle against the disease.

While serving a mission in Tahiti in 2013, Brandon Squires got a massive headache.

“I was in the middle of teaching lessons and I just couldn’t understand why I felt like my brain was on fire,” Squires recalled.

“I finally got home at 5 in the afternoon, took my temperature and it was 103.”

He called the mission nurse who gave him a diagnosis over the phone.

“She was like oh yeah, it’s probably just the Zika virus. Everyone is getting it,” Squires said.

Some 20,000 people in the French Polynesia Islands became infected with the virus – the largest outbreak ever recorded.

Squires slept for four days straight and developed a rash.

“It covers your skin with these red spots, like chicken pox almost,” he said.

There’s no vaccine or medication to treat the virus. All he could do was rest and take Ibuprofen.

“It’s unfortunate for a week, but then you’re over it,” Squires said.

He eventually made a full recovery.

The Utah State University student is now reminded almost daily about that experience.

“When I started seeing it on the news, I was like oh yeah, I have that.”

Zika is spreading rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean nations. There are at least 82 cases in 21 states, including Utah. A child contracted the virus while visiting one of the affected areas.

“It’s not a new virus. The first time it was found was in 1947 in Southeast Asia,” said Dallin Peterson, Vector Borne Epidemiologist Utah Department of Health.

The main concern surrounding Zika is its link to birth defects, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends women who have traveled to affected areas to get tested for the virus.

For more information on the Zika virus, visit http://www.health.utah.gov/