Expectant mother from Indiana in Brazil to visit dying father despite Zika risks

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 11, 2016)-- An expectant mother from Carmel is in Brazil, despite warnings about the rapidly spreading Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean. Zika is transmitted by mosquitoes, and scientists across the globe attribute it to severe birth defects in newborns, like an abnormally small head.

A new study also suggests that Zika could lead to blindness in some children.

Cases of Zika virus are popping up across the United States, and just this week one was identified in Indiana.

Carla Hipskind is from Brazil and her father has terminal cancer. She said if she didn’t go back to her country, she’d likely never see her father alive again.

“Any other circumstance, I would stay home,” she said.

Hipskind is 15 weeks pregnant. Zika was not in the headlines when she planned the trip in December to see her dying father, as his illness got worse.

“We got the news that they could not do anything more about his cancer,” she said, “As soon as I got off the plane, I went to the bathroom and sprayed myself with repellent.”

She said she stays indoors with closed windows and protects herself as best as possible. She is in the southern part of the country, where she said cases are not as widespread as up north.

“There was just one person that came back from another state, and she had Zika virus but not from here. It was from someplace else that she went on vacation,” she said.

Zika is spreading rapidly through Latin America and the Caribbean, now tracked in at least 29 countries. The World Health Organization expects between three to four million people to get the virus in the Americas in the next year.

Tuesday, the Indiana State Department of Health announced Indiana’s first case.

It was Indiana Wesleyan Nursing Instructor Dr. Barbara Ihrke who traveled to an island off the coast of Haiti last month. She took precautions but still got diagnosed upon returning home.

“There were mosquitoes around. I used spray regularly and plenty of it. I slept in a room that had screen on the windows, and I know I was bit, but it just seemed to be inevitable,” said Ihrke.

Back in Brazil, Hipskind knows there is a danger, but she came anyway, for her father.

“I don’t know if I would be able to see him again if I waited too long, so that’s why I came,” she said.

She’s expecting to be in Brazil until the first of March.

 

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