U.S. Army Warrant Officer Chris Lust was serving in Port-au-Prince, Haiti distributing food to victims when he because ill. Lust was immediately sent to the U.S. Navy ship, Comfort, off the shores of Haiti, and then to a Tampa Veterans Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a rare disease endemic to Haiti, Leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis is characterized as a “rare and severe bacterial infection. It is also known as Well’s disease. It is rarely found in humans, but infects dogs reptiles, mammals, birds and amphibians. The disease is believed to be transmitted by animal urine to humans through a break in the skin, the eyes and the mucous membranes.
The WHO reports infection in humans may occur when the bacteria come into contact with the skin, typically through contact with unclean water that has been infected by animals.
“It’s kind of like they’re writing a blank check when they go into these places and it might cost them their life,” said Lorilei Lust, Chris’ mother.
His mother says he has suffered seizure-like symptoms, painful headaches, fevers spiking as high as 105 degrees, and extreme body aches. He was in the hospital’s I.C.U. until Saturday, February 20th. As soon as he is physically able to be transferred, he will be moved to San Antonio for follow-up care.
The U.S. Military is not commenting on Lust, or the possibility of other soldiers stricken with Lpetospirosis.