While the world is distracted with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Guyana is dealing with it’s own outbreak –Chikungunya. This virus is sweeping through many parts of the Caribbean and South America, and Guyana is no exception. In the course of the month that I’ve lived in this country, I’ve watched as multiple people that I know have become ill with the virus. The most difficult part of living here while an outbreak occurs is that no one seems to know much at all about Chikungunya.
The first thing I want to know is, why isn’t the government doing everything in it’s power to control the virus? If hundreds of people are contracting the virus in the most populous city in the country, why isn’t more being done to counter the danger? I’m pretty sure Chikungunya is spread through mosquitoes, but I’ve also heard that it could be air-born. I’ve heard that once you have it, you develop an immunity. I’ve also heard that you can contract it over and over again. I hear that the mosquitoes that carry the virus are “day biters”, I’ve also heard that they only bite at night. I hear that the illness will last a week, I’ve also heard it will last months. I hear the side effects of the illness will last eight years, three years, a few months…
As I said before, no one seems to know much about Chikungunya. All I know for sure, is that the people I know who have contracted the illness have suffered fevers, joint pains, and swollen ankles and wrists. One woman continues to suffer, even after having had Chikungunya months ago. Here I thought moving to Guyana would have me hoping and praying not to get Malaria, but it turns out, there’s a new monster in town. A new monster, one that is filled with a whole lot of mystery.
I’ll keep wearing my bug spray!