HALL COUNTY, Ga. - The Georgia Department of Public Health Thursday, confirmed the state’s first human case of chikungunya this year. The patient was infected during a recent trip to a Carribean nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Hall County woman said she got a malaria vaccination prior to going to Haiti and assumed that mosquito repellant would protect her from diseases.
“I just thought I wasn't going to be able to walk-- like I was going to constantly going to have these pains. I guess that's what scared me,” Ashley Manning said.
Manning told Channel 2’s Tom Regan that she had just gotten off using crutches for more than a week after getting infected with chikungunya, the mosquito-borne virus with the strange name.
She said she got infected during a mission trip in Haiti in early June and symptoms began days after arriving home.
"My joints were hurting really bad and I was like getting really out of breath and like having a fever," she said.
Miller said she passed out at one point and was later taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center last week where she was given fluids, pain mediation and monitored around the clock. She had a fever of 103 degrees, she said.
“It was really rough. I can only imagine what it's like for the people in the Caribbean and Haiti suffering with it now without any medication,” Miller said.
Doctors told Ashley, for now, her symptoms can only be treated and not cured.
“It could be up to three years that I’m having stiff joints and joint pains,” she said.
Chikungunya is caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. It is not spread through human to human contact, according to the CDC.
The most common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and severe joint pain, especially in the hands and feet. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash. Symptoms usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, with most patients feeling better within a week. Joint pain, however, can persist for months.
Chikungunya disease does not often result in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling. Travelers who go to islands in the Caribbean are at risk of getting chikungunya. In addition, travelers to Africa, Asia, and islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific are at risk, as the virus is present in many of these areas. Mosquitoes that carry chikungunya virus bite during the day and at night, indoors and outdoors, and often live around buildings in urban areas.
Currently, the CDC has reported more than 60 confirmed cases of chikungunya in the U.S., but that number is growing. All U.S. patients infected with chikungunya have travel histories in areas where chikungunya is circulating. Anyone who has symptoms chikungunya following travel should seek medical attention and make their healthcare provider aware of any travel history outside of the country.
“It is extremely important that patients who are infected with chikungunya virus keep guard against additional mosquito bites,” said Cherie Drenzek, D.V.M, state epidemiologist for DPH. “During the first week or so of infection, chikungunya virus can be passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then transmit the virus to other people, though this has not yet happened in the U.S."