by: Tom Regan Updated:
CLEVELAND, Ga. - A local woman who returned from a mission trip to Haiti tells Channel 2 Action News that she contracted a painful mosquito-borne viral illness during her visit.
"My joints were hurting really bad. I was like getting really out of breath and having a fever," said Ashley Manning.
Manning said that doctors told her the symptoms she was experiencing matched those cause by the Chikungunya virus.
The virus has rapidly spread throughout the Caribean in recent months and has infected U.S. travelers. Residents in a half-dozen states have been affected, with the worst in Florida, where 25 cases have been reported.
Manning told Channel 2's Tom Regan she received a malaria vaccination prior to her trip and didn't believe Chikungunya to be a threat.
"We'll just rub on a bunch of mosquito repellent with DEET and hope we don't get bit," said Manning.
Just days after she arrived home to Cleveland, Ga., Manning says began to feel sick. While working for a white water rafting company, she collapsed and was taken to North Georgia Medical Center the next day. She said it was nearly impossible to even walk.
"I just thought I was not going to be able to walk, like I was constantly going to have these pains. I guess that's what scared me. I also was running an intense high fever," said Manning.
Manning says another woman who was on the same mission trip also contracted the virus and was treated at the same hospital. A hospital official told Channel 2 that blood tests have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm an infection.
Manning said she had to use crutches to support herself for nearly a week and was told by doctors to expect to experience joint pain for the next three years.
She said she feels sympathy for those infected by the virus in Haiti, especially babies.
"There's people who are there struggling with this now. And they don't have the medical attention that I have," said Manning.
Health officials say they have not reports of mosquitoes transmitting the virus in the U.S.