After learning that she had been infected with the chikungunya virus, a New Amsterdam woman was later told by a doctor at the New Amsterdam Hospital that the joint pains she was experiencing could last for two years.
The woman, who is a staffer of the Ministry of Education in Region Six, said this news was disclosed to her by the doctor after he told her she had been infected with the virus two months ago.
She said the hospital had run several tests on her after she was taken there with severe muscle and joint pains. A few days later, she received her results that she was a confirmed case.
The Health Ministry recently confirmed 76 cases from approximately 250 samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad and Tobago. The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud, however, stated that there were 580 suspected cases coming out of health centres across the country and some samples sent to CARPHA are still waiting to be tested.
The woman, who asked not to be named told Stabroek News that her doctor told her that the older the patient, the longer the pain takes to leave. “Even to this day I still feel pain. I’m still having pains in my joints,” she said, noting that she was back out to work after one week.
On June 15, while she was at work, she said, she started feeling acute pains in her ankles and room began to spin. She said the dizziness lasted for hours and the pain was so severe that she was sent home. By the time she reached her house, her wrists, back and head were also hurting. “I started feeling nauseated because the pain was so intense. It caused me to fall asleep,” she recalled.
She later woke up with a fever. “My temperature was 107 °C, so I went to the New Amsterdam Hospital. They tested my temperature and blood pressure before giving me an injection for the pain,” she added, while noting that she was also given Panadol to use every four hours and was instructed to drink a lot of liquids.
But she said the pills brought little relief as the days went by. “The pain was so excruciating I couldn’t even stand on my feet or even eat. I was drinking a lot of water and juice but I was still dizzy and nauseated,” she said.
She added that every day she would get cold sweats with a high fever. After four days, the fever broke. “But I still couldn’t walk,” she added, noting that that day tiny red boils broke out on her arms and spread throughout her body.
“I returned to the hospital and they gave me a cream to rub on it,” she stated, adding that the rashes lasted for three days.
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” she said, adding that other staffers at her workplace were also treated for similar symptoms.
She noted that every time she visited the hospital the place would be crowded with people experiencing the same symptoms. “It was like a breakout,” she said.
The chikungunya virus, which is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, was first detected in Berbice, where it remains prevalent. There have also been reports of the virus along the East Coast of Demerara, in Georgetown, in Region Ten and in Aurora, Essequibo. Some of the symptoms of chikungunya are sudden high fever, joint pains, muscle pains, skin rash and headaches. While there is no specific treatment for chikungunya, it is treated symptomatically.