COLUMBIA — An MU graduate student who was identified as mainland China's first case of swine flu in May said he was just trying to get married when he traveled home.
Xueyang Bao, 30, said he felt fatigued when he boarded a plane on May 7 in St. Louis for China. But he thought nothing of being tired because he had just finished rearranging his apartment.
"I was feeling fine," he said while outside of his University Heights apartment. "I had no feeling of a cold."
He later had a fever when traveling through Minnesota, Tokyo and Beijing and when he arrived in Chengdu, China, he went straight to the hospital and was confirmed to have swine flu.
"It was a surprise to me," he said. "I should think it would be a surprise to anyone. I didn't know anything about swine flu before that."
Bao was immediately put in quarantine while officials scrambled to contact and quarantine other passengers on his flight.
Medical staff members were his only visitors. Doctors allowed him to have Internet access but warned him not to read online reports of his situation for fear it would hinder his recovery.
He was released from quarantine May 17, the original date of his wedding. The couple pushed the wedding back to June 6.
When he left the hospital, reporters greeted him. He said he wanted to "get the truth out" that he did not know he was sick when he began his trip.
Bao recently returned to Columbia with his bride to finish his research on seismic waves. He hopes to move back to China and help the country better prepare for earthquakes.
Bao, who took criticism for bringing swine flu to China, said he hopes his work earns him different attention.
"I want you and other reporters to interview me after a few years," he said, "and we are talking about earthquakes instead."