Exclusive: Lamar County man contracts Zika virus in Mexico

Exclusive: Lamar County man contracts Zika virus in Mexico

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Last month during a trip to Cozumel, Mexico, Lamar County resident Starling Johnson said he was working on his boat when he was bitten by a mosquito.

A short while later, he said he began feeling sick.

"I started feeling symptoms of sore muscles, started to feel a slight rash on the arm and then I had pink eye," Johnson said.

He was experiencing symptoms of the Zika virus, so he made an appointment with his doctor to be tested.

"She checked on a few things, came back and said that they didn't have testing currently in the office," Johnson said.

His doctor referred him to the health department, but they could not help either.

"I asked if I could get tested, she said 'we don't test for that here,'" Johnson said.

Several days later, his symptoms were subsiding.

He also received a call from his doctor who had received protocol to test for the virus. Once he went in for the test, he received a phone call with some startling news the next day.

"They drew my blood, took a urine sample and called me the next day saying, Mr. Johnson you're Zika positive."

Johnson said people in the area began to shun him.

"I do have a best friend that has a wife pregnant in the neighborhood. He's not real happy about it, (laughs)" Johnson said.

Because he owns a car business near their home, he said Lamar County Officials were concerned about standing water at their property.

He said they received a threatening letter from Lamar County Officials telling them to clean up areas or else.

"They were basically saying these cars have to be removed from your property in 30 days or we will remove them for you and charge you up to $20,000 as a tax lien," Johnson said.

Johnson said he went to speak with Lamar County officials, and the issue was resolved.

He wanted to share his story because he said there are a lot of misconceptions about the virus.

"Zika virus passes like the flu, once it's gone, you're not at risk anymore," Johnson said.