Zika pub joke turns serious for Bernie
WHEN 50-year-old "Bernie" showed up at the Globe Hotel last Monday, Mick Kenny says he was a bit under the weather.
Bernie was the Rockhampton local identified as carrying the Zika virus on Tuesday after he had returned from work as a diesel fitter in South America.
Mick, the hotel manager, said he and his mates were actually teasing Bernie about the Zika virus just days before the diagnosis.
"I was surprised he actually had it because we were having a go at him about it when he first got back," he said yesterday.
"We were joking, and having a go at him for bringing it back.
"The only sign of illness he has was sore joints and had a bit of a fever."
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Bernie, who was on a flight back to South America yesterday morning to return to work, has caused national headlines across Australia.
The Zika virus has been a concern globally after an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus started last year in South America and is thought to be the cause of around 4000 causes of microcephaly.
Since Bernie's diagnosis, Mick said the hotel had been completely fumigated by the health department.
"It was fumigated (Tuesday) afternoon and we have been going through the rooms today," he said.
"But there really isn't much to worry about because he wasn't bitten by a mosquito here...we were fortunate he didn't move around much.
"He never left the hotel; he only went up to the doctors and the hospital to get the test done and then came back."
Patrons at the Globe Hotel yesterday afternoon said their friend Bernie "seemed fine" despite the virus.