Agonizing Mosquito-Borne Virus Hits US with No Cure
An incurable, mosquito-borne virus called Chikungunya is making is way into the United States.
There's no outbreak yet but health officials are warning international travelers to beware.
Many travel during the summer season on short-term missions, increasing the risk for bringing home unwanted viruses.
Ashley Manning, from Georgia, contracted the Chikungunya virus during a recent mission trip to Haiti, despite the fact she used insect repellent.
Manning said she could barely walk for a week.
"My joints were hurting really bad, I was, like, getting really out of breath and, like, having a fever," she said.
Moving her arms even a little caused severe pain in her wrists.
Health officials are concerned as the summer travel and tourism season peaks, travelers could continue bringing the virus home with them.
The virus has already reached the United States with an estimated 41 cases so far - some as far north as Rhode Island.
Full blown outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Asia, Europe, and in the Indian and Pacific islands.
"It's been slowly picking its way around the world and finally landed in the Caribbean," Ture Carlson with the Memphis and Shelby County Vector Control said.
Symptoms are similar to Dengue fever, including fever, headache, muscle pain, severe joint pain and a rash on the hands and feet.
"There's no vaccine for it, there's nothing else you can really do, but avoid mosquito bites," Carlson said.
If you happen to contract the virus, health officials suggest rest and drinking lots of fluids.
Most patients feel better within a week, but for some people, the joint pain could last months.
The good news: once a person is infected, they are likely to be protected from future Chikengunya outbreaks.
As for Manning, she's recovering and thinking about those she went on a mission to serve and others like them.
'It was really rough. And I can only imagine what it's like for people in the Caribbean and Haiti and suffering without any medication," Manning said.