Chikungunya, or chicken nugget as Gill from Star Charger likes to call it, is on the increase in The Caribbean. As I’m one of the first in our circle of friends here in Grenada to contract this debilitating virus, I thought it may be helpful if I wrote about the Chikungunya symptoms that I’m currently experiencing and the treatment we are using for those symptoms. Hopefully this information maybe of value to someone.
We have all been talking about it here in Grenada for so long and Mal & I have now done some urgent research and share the following suggestions.
- Forget the natural repellents we’ve been using; The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends repellents containing DEET. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs327/en/
- If you haven’t already, stock up on electrolytes and ibuprofen.
For readers not located in The Caribbean, Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. The first instance in The Caribbean was recorded in 2013 but it has now spread to every island. The map below, from the WHO, shows the countries with infestation. The same mosquito carries the Dengue virus and the symptoms are almost the same, except for the joint pain. Unlike Dengue, there have been no cases recorded in Oz yet according to the WHO.
The good news for me is I’m almost through the acute stage and I don’t have the incredible lethargy I suffered for the first 48 hours. I contracted it either Wednesday at Secret Harbour or Friday at Prickly Bay Marina last week and, dependent on which website you access, the incubation period can be anywhere from 2-12 days. Over the weekend I felt unusually stiff in the neck and had a nagging but very small headache. I put it down to sleeping in a strange position. Sunday night I couldn’t fall asleep and was up and down most of the night. During the night my right hand was aching badly but I thought that it was just my volleyball-injured finger and massaged it with anti-inflammatory cream. By Monday morning it had swollen and was extremely tender to touch. Off to the doctor and the x-Ray showed a fractured finger! On recollection, I remembered my left hand had also been very painful during the night but still didn’t put two and two together.
By the time we got back to the boat I was very unwell; legs like jelly and I had no energy at all. I fell into bed and Mal prepared the electrolytes. I drifted in and out of sleep all afternoon. When I was awake I was getting hotter and hotter so I dragged myself down and sat on the bottom step of a sugar scoop dangling my legs in the water – BLISS. I couldn’t stay too long as my eyes were becoming very light-sensitive which can be a side effect from ibuprofen. They ache at the back of the eye, particularly if I rub them.
We don’t have a thermometer onboard but my temperature was high. I got quite cold and all my fingertips were numb; it felt like I had frostbite! They didn’t respond to massage but when I awoke after my next nap, my little fingertips were back.
Yesterday, day 2 of symptoms, I was still very lethargic and spent most of the day curled up napping. I ventured outside for a short time but got cold. Ridiculous in these temperatures! As the day progressed my joints became stiff and painful. Navigating our stairs became difficult and very painful, especially as the ibuprofen wore off. Lying in bed even hurt my ribs and shoulders. By night-time I felt marginally better from a fever and energy point of view and actually had an appetite.
One of the many frustrating aspects of this disease is that even though you are exhausted, sleep doesn’t come easily. I had a better sleep last night, apart from frequent visits to the loo (gotta keep the fluids up!). I awoke this morning feeling really good except the joint pain persists. I had breakfast, I’ve been for a swim and just had a light lunch. Mal was in the water with me, bless his little heart, just in case I needed a push up the ladder but it all went OK and it was soooo good!
Fever – Yes
Joint pain – Yes
Muscle pain – Yes
Headache – Mild
Nausea – No, alot of belching though 😦
Fatigue – Yes
Rash – Not yet
I feel I have recovered from the main symptoms pretty quickly and we think it’s because of the fluid intake. Mal has been diligent in pushing me to keep up the fluids. In the first 36 hours I drank 4 litres of electrolytes – now you know why I’m on the loo in the middle of the night. I’m now drinking tea as well but I haven’t been allowed my morning coffee yet 😦 I guess I’ll savour it more when I finally have it.
We have also followed the ibuprofen instructions to the letter which was difficult in the first 24 hours as I wanted more pain relief when it wore off but I didn’t want any of those nasty side effects.
What we have read indicates that the joint pain can persist for weeks, months or years, god forbid, and this is known as the chronic stage! Also, a rash can develop in the next few days so I’m hoping that doesn’t eventuate.
If this has been helpful and anyone would like me to update it in the future just make a “comment” on the blog or let me know in person.
Thanks to my darling husband for taking such good care of me. Apparently I had another symptom during the incubation stage which doesn’t get mentioned on the WHO website: bitchiness.
Good luck with your prevention methods, love Sue, on the mend. xx
Some of the references we used:
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/symptoms/
Grenada Cruisers Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/groups/132087906871838/?ref=br_tf
Chikungunya Virus Net http://www.chikungunyavirusnet.com/signs-a-symptoms.html