Heartland woman says she got tropical disease after trip to Haiti

Heartland woman says she got tropical disease after trip to Haiti

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - It's not a disease you hear about in the U.S. every day. You typically only contract dengue fever when you travel to more tropical areas, but there it's much more of a concern.

Four-hundred million people are infected with the mosquito-borne illness each year, but one Heartland woman said it's not keeping her from living out her goals.

Jessica Estes knew that she would face many challenges when she traveled to Haiti in May, but the biggest challenge may be from the smallest foe.

Estes said a bite from an infected mosquito left her with headaches, fever and joint pains. For her, these symptoms are minimal in terms of what she set out to accomplish.

"It's funny because everyone has a different calling and it was just being in tuned to it and praying about it and I truly felt that I was in church one day and there was a missionary speaking and God just said this is what I want you to do," Estes said.

That calling was medical assistance in poverty striken areas like Haiti.

"Some days it's just holding a crying baby, you know, some says it's holding someone's hand while they get a shot," Estes said. "It's anything that's small to spread God's love and that's what I'm there to do."

But little did she know, a small bite that she received on her mission would have her worrying about her own health.

"A mosquito put me in the hospital for five days," she said. "It was terrifying. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I had 103 degree fever and a rash from head to toe. I was miserable. My bones were aching."

Local doctors told her that these are all symptoms of dengue fever.

Even with that, Estes said she'd do it all over again.

"We can catch the flu by going to Walmart," she said. "You can get a cold from going outside, you get hit by a car walking to get your mail. You can't let the threats of the environment and the world keep you from day to day life."

Or in this case, helping others live theirs.

According to the CDC, dengue rarely occurs in the U.S.

It is an epidemic in Puerto Rico and places like Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

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