Zika is the new Chikungunya …

At the very least, this new virus has a name that’s easier to spell and pronounce. But it’s still yet-another virus the Caribbean region must contend with, and only a short while after declaring that ChikV was over and done with in most islands.

12-year-old girl first in the Caribbean to contract the Zika virus 

It was less than a year ago I contracted ChikV when I returned to Bequia for a few weeks to spell Dennis while he paid a visit to Canada. Throughout the months of suffering … and yes, I do not use the word “suffering” lightly! … I wrote about the virus in a number of blog posts (collected here) that received a great deal of attention from around the world and comments written by others who had also contracted the virus while they were visiting, or living in, the Caribbean region, and who now took comfort in the knowledge they were not alone, that they were likely not going to die, and that they would eventually, eventually recover and feel “normal” again.

Well, here I am, writing this 11 months later, and I can honestly say I am feeling about 96% recovered, the only lingering pain being that soreness that seems to be inside the very bones of my right shoulder. That still bothers me every once in a while (just last night, again), but is not excruciating or debilitating, just annoying.

So you may understand my trepidation with the announcement of this new easier-to-spell-and-pronounce virus, Zika. I am gun-shy about travelling to the Caribbean again any time soon. While I currently sit in the woods of Ontario, surrounded by clouds of mosquitoes, I at least know these are the non-virus-bearing variety. Besides, they’re also large enough to carry away a small dog and move so slowly I have a fair chance of actually swatting and killing them before they can manage to bite. It seems like more of a fair fight to me. The mosquitoes on Bequia are sneaky and have a way of beating all our attempts to eradicate them – especially the fogging with poisonous chemicals, which was the only attempt made by the government to deal with Chikungunya last year, and instead resulted in the kill-off of part of the bee population. The mosquitoes themselves somehow managed to dodge that bullet. What stopped the further spread of the virus was that nearly everyone on the island contracted it and, since the virus could not be spread from human to human, it eventually died out, naturally. This is what’s called “herd immunity”.

Let’s hope Caribbean health authorities and governments learned from their mistakes last year in dealing with ChikV and, instead of hiding their heads in the sand (believing that by doing so they were somehow protecting their tourist industry), they take immediate action to stop the spread of Zika, the new kid on the beach, before it gets a foothold. No one … NO ONE! should be made to suffer again as we all did last year with Chikungunya. Bad enough already we have to contend with the constant threat of Dengue (which I have had), Malaria, West Nile, and all the other mosquito-borne diseases, fevers, threats, than to be worried about Zika, as well.

And we can begin eradicating viruses such as Zika by educating the people! This blog post, and the other earlier posts I wrote about ChikV, are my attempt to spread the word to help stop the spread of the virus. Please share this, and my other posts, wherever possible so many more people read and hear about these mosquito-borne viruses and learn to take proper precautions.

(How’s that for a slogan?)

I want to hear from you, if you contracted Chikungunya last year and have been following my blog posts abut the virus. How are you doing? Have you now recovered? Please post a comment below and let me and my readers know of your experience. I really do want to hear from you!


11 responses

  1. Important post here. Thanks for sharing.:)

  2. Well Sue, my heart did triple thumps when I heard about this latest mosquito-borne threat a couple of weeks ago. The next morning, the Min of Health in Dominica was out fogging the place and I had to dodge that, as well as a brush fire beside my home! Not a good Nature Island vibe…

    I have recovered fairly well from CHIKV infection last April, but do get residual pain/stiffness in my fingers, wrists, toes, feet, ankles and knees almost every night. With movement in the morning, it diminishes. I’ve also had more dizzy spells since my bout of CHIKV and DENV (they were concurrent infections), and although prone to fatigue due to pre-existing health conditions, I have to be careful about energy expenditures on some days. The good news is that I can do a long hike now (6 hours) – and feel even better for it!

    As you know, I am going north for the summer (next week) and will return at the end of August. I guess we can only wait and see. I really wouldn’t want to go through that again – it was so frightening. The high fever and unrelenting pain really terrified me. To make matters worse, people stayed away from me, fearing a contagion, so I was left alone to hobble around on errands for a couple of months. Interestingly, I seemed to improve considerably when I went to Canada last summer, but maybe it was the extra TLC and good food provided by my extended family up there.

    I can see how climate change is significantly impacting on environmental health in Dominica. People have to start taking responsibility and being more careful about garbage disposal, among other things (such as indiscriminate burning during the dry season). On another note, it is amazing that I have been through more brush fires in Dominica over 18 years than hurricanes (not that I wish for one!). But considering that this is a rainforest island, the worrying environmental changes should be on the top of everyone’s list – in terms of taking nothing for granted.

    A mosquito is biting me right now, so I’d better go!

    Good luck to all of us. And yes, let’s be proactive so that we can be well!

    1. Thanks, Gwen! I just found an ad for this new item which seems to be on the right track of preventing mosquito eggs from hatching: http://green-strike.com/ This might be a more affordable method of investing in mosquito eradication than those currently used by most governments.

  3. Like jennanigans, if it’s there, we’ll have it soon. Thanks for the heads up. Wondering now if that’s what the “unexplained” mystery illness is that was barely mentioned in the news last week – lots of cruise ships go from Galveston to the Caribbean. Have to admit the concern of Chikungunya and like mosquito plagues tend to make me want to head to the mts rather than the islands these days. Your tales of dealing with that disease is enough of a warning. Like you, I can swat the big ones.
    (Side note. Annoyed at one perky brand new to the area news reporter who blurts out on the air about the recent after the flood swarms: “These aren’t the poisonous mosquitoes”. So wrong in so many ways. Sigh. Please force vocabulary study in schools.)
    Just suffering the sweltering here – so far that’s the only summer fever.
    And when do we get pictures of your summer writing suite and locale? Sounds wonderful even if there’s buzz.

    1. As always, thanks for your support in this, philmouse! (I’ve been posting photos of the writing retreat on Facebook, but haven’t yet written a blog post. Will do that soon, complete with an updated video walk-through. Okay?)

      1. That FB hussy – always getting her share first. (HA HA) Really, let nothing get in the way of writing and enjoying the spot.

      2. Her nickname is “Hotel California” – you may check out but you can never leave …

  4. Reblogged this on Mudder of Dragons and commented:
    As a Floridian, this concerns me!

    1. Absolutely, jennanigans! Thanks for reblogging!

      1. No probs! I like to keep aware of these things, since I live near a river!

      2. Chikungunya also caused problems in Florida. I suspect the same will be true for Zika.

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