As per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a very debilitating fever that strikes at the joints has affected 250,000 in the Caribbean over the past year. The fever is called chikungunya which is Swahili for walking while bent over. It is a reference to the excruciating joint pain it causes. The disease is thought to have originated in Tanzania in the 1950s and is spread by the tiger mosquito, a black & white stripped mosquito that feeds both in daylight hours and evening hours. The mosquito is particularly aggressive and thrives where humans congregate.
Climate change is allowing the tiger mosquito to thrive longer and reach greater distances. It has been confirmed that 27 people have entered the United States after having contracted the virus. They are responsible for 112 people getting ill in this country. The symptoms of chikungunya fever include pain standing erect and difficulty using hands. There’s no treatment for the sickness other than to stay hydrated and ride it out.
Those familiar with the fever say it only lasts a few weeks. Only? That said, in some cases it’s known to last for months or years. The only medications available for dealing with chikungunya are painkillers to reduce the joint pain.
The area hardest hit is the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. There are 174,000 cases there with most of them, 135,000 to be exact, having occurred in the Dominican Republic. Next on the list are the French islands of Guadeloupe with 40,000 cases and Martinique with 35,000 cases. If one goes by the rule of thumb that for every one case reported there are ten unreported, a chikungunya epidemic is well under way.