“It is astonishing how much worse one mosquito can be than a swarm. A swarm can be prepared against, but one mosquito takes on a personality—a hatefulness, a sinister quality of the struggle to the death.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

Marina tenderly wrapped her feverish two-year old grandson in a sheet and Gloria rushed him to the hospital on her motorcycle. Braydon, unable to walk, suffering from a high fever and severe joint pain is one of the youngest victims of the mosquito transmitted virus, Chikungunya.


Theresa, my closest expat neighbor on Ometepe, awoke with “tomato face”, an itchy rash which is one of the symptoms of this sinister and debilitating virus. Neither Francisco or Raymond can walk. The joint pain is so debilitating that the skin peels off the soles of their feet.
IMG_6446My friend, Lisa from Ecuador and I have shared Chikungunya stories. Dengue and Chikungunya. 

Although Ron and I have experienced some of the symptoms of Chikunguna, we are hopeful that we have dodged the bullet with only severe joint pain  and extreme fatigue.  But, it is too soon to tell because this bizarre virus comes and goes…sometimes for months.

“Lisa, I feel like an old, old woman shuffling around the house,” I said to her. I can’t wash my dirty dishes because my elbows and hands are so painful. It started with my pinky finger. I noticed that it was extremely painful to the touch and swollen. Then, it spread to my right elbow and wrists. Ron said, “I feel like I’ve been in a boxing match and I lost.”

Yesterday was the first day that we felt strong enough to sit outside in the sun for a few minutes. Marina brings us breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our gates on our porch are locked. We don’t feel up to having visitors. Last night, Marina brought me a soothing cream for my joints. I stuck my arms through the iron bars and she tenderly massaged the cream into my sore joints. I didn’t have the energy to unlock the gate.

Today, we feel a little stronger. My joints don’t ache as much. Have we dodged the bullet or are we in for a wild ride? Only time will tell.
IMG_6164There is an epidemic of Chikungunya on Ometepe Island. If you are planning to visit, please take these precautions: Chikunguna Virus Prevention

It is astonishing how one mosquito can take on a sinister and hateful personality. If you are infected with Chikungunya, the only saving grace is to surrender to the virus, take pain relief, lay in bed and watch movies, read, and drink plenty of fluids. There is no miracle . cure. It won’t kill you, but its crippling symptoms will force you to surrender.
IMG_6165Lisa’s posts on Dengue and Chikungunya are the most comprehensive articles I have found on this disease. The Force of a Tiny Insect

If you have had Dengue or Chikungunya, please share your stories on Lisa’s post or here. Your stories and advice may help others suffering with this sinister tiny insect bite.

26 thoughts on “Chikun…What?

  1. Picked it up last December, probably in Balgue, but it possibly was in Casares where we stayed for a night before heading back to Canada. Hit me two days later with high fever and pain in every part of my body that I have ever hurt, plus the soles of my feet. Was told it was the flu, but certainly unlike one I had never experienced (got normal Canadian winter flu in January). The high fever, severe pain (no rash) lasted about three days, main fatigue / mild pain lasted a few weeks, but took a couple of months before my energy became two-thirds normal. Knee pain came back in February, lasted over a month, then pain / swelling in both wrist came late in May.
    Finally went to a doctor in early June for a blood test to confirm that it was Chikungunya, which I had thought it was but wanted to make sure it wasn’t something else. Just got the positive result a couple of days ago. Still dealing with a sore wrist, but improving daily. Took a prescribed anti-inflammatory (Apo-Naproxen) for the wrists which helped a lot.
    Hope the end is near and my resistance high enough to avoid future pain. Probably good to get the virus now as it seems to be spreading rapidly and not a matter of if one will come down with it, just when.
    Patience is the word, and lots of it, but that doesn’t help anyone feel better that is in the middle of it. Fortunately it appears that the longer term pain issues that I experienced affect only a low percentage of the people that contract Chikungunya.
    Great site & blog, really enjoy checking it, when I can’t be on Ometepe in person.

    • Thanks so much, Steve, for describing your experiences with Chikungunya. It is the craziest disease. Just when you think it is gone, WHAM! another debilitating pain. I was talking with my expat friend this morning who got Chikungunya in June. She had every symptom listed and it comes and goes. Today, she has a hard time walking because of the pain in her ankles and soles of her feet. Yesterday, she felt great.
      We’re researching the use of Turmeric in reducing the inflammation around the joints. I am still unable to bend my pinky finger and it is inflamed and painful. I’ve been drinking Turmeric tea daily…not sure if it helps with this virus, but when I had a frozen shoulder, the turmeric tea helped tremendously.
      I feel like I am one of the lucky ones with only short-term pain issues, but my poor friend is suffering so much and I wish there was something I could do to ease her pain.
      Glad you enjoy my blog, Steve. Thanks so much.

  2. Chikunguna is such a vicious and painful virus and I’ve read people’s stories of their experiences and the lingering after effects which can last for months. One friend I met is Curacao who had it was still having problems several months after her initial illness. So sorry to hear you and Ron have been ill and in pain and hope you recover completely SOON!. Anita

    • Yes, it is the most bizarre virus we have ever had. We wake up every morning with a new joint pain. The old one disappears, and the new one hurts like crazy. Last night my feet felt like they were burning. Today, the soles of my feet just ache. I have a craving for sweets and sour fruits. The pain is not debilitating, only annoying. What I can’t stand is the exhaustion. This morning I washed a load of clothes, then swept my floors, and now I have to lay down to rest. At least I can read with Chikungunya. When I had Dengue, I felt like my eyeballs were going to pop out of my head and had to stay in a dark room. Sigh. I just want it to go away.
      I feel fortunate that we are not as sick as some of my friends. Thanks, Anita for your well wishes.

  3. Wow, Debbie, I didn’t know you were sick until I read Lisa’s blog. I’m SO sorry! And sorry to have been SO out of the loop! I pray you are feeling better soon. Now I know why everyone says to stay away from the coast in EC.

    And just so you know. This summer I’m going on two-month RV trip with my nearing-ninety Godmother and her cat Pepe le Mew. I leave for the US in a week. The RV is huge, 37-feet. My Godmother will be driving and towing an SUV the entire way. She was a Flamenco dancer during her entire professional life. I’m going to try to blog about our trip and write a book about the 64 beautiful years she and my Godfather, a Venezuelan movie star (I kid you not!), were married, until Raul died last fall one month shy of his 97th birthday.

    I pray you are on the mend soon!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • OMG! Kathy, you are a HOOT! Where have you been? Not in the blogging world I see. I think of you often and I almost wrote Lisa to see what had happened to you. I have a tendency to worry, so now I feel much better knowing that you and your flamingo dancing Godmother, accompanied by Pepe le Mew, and the spirit of your Venezuelan movie star Godfather will be traversing the states in a 37 ft. RV. for a couple of months. Your story perks up my tired, old, joint-pained, Chiky V. infected body. Thanks for the chuckles. I feel better already. Hugs and safe travels to you.

  4. I had no idea that you and Ron were suffering, too, from this lousy Chik v. Living with fatigue and joint pain is horrendous and I feel so badly for the children who get sick. I hope you both get well soon and stay well. That sow is a good sport and if your dog were a cat, he would be purring. Cute pictures. Take care! 🙂

  5. That sounds worse than the malaria I came down with after a mosquito bite in Costa Rica 10 years ago. It happened right before I left so I came down with it in the USA. Te deseo que tienes una rápida recuperación!

  6. We live in Jamaica and both got “chik v” as we call it here in September/October last year. BUT it still lingers, and returns from time to time (that is, the arthritic pain) when you least expect it. In my case it is in the ankles (which swell up overnight), feet and thumbs. For my husband, it is in his shoulders and hip. Our symptoms were a rash (did not last long), itchy skin (for quite a while), and of course the fever and pains. Also one of the worst things that all of us Jamaicans complain about is sheer tiredness! We have both had dengue as well and it is quite different. My energy level has been lower for the past several months as a result. It is really hateful.

  7. Wow, Debbie, thanks for your kind words, but you have found as I did, the more one knows about the ‘enemy’ the better armed we are to fight it. I could not hold a glass or a pencil or open a twist top, but I could read! I’ve had a month’s jump on where you are with this illness.

    I hope that you do indeed dodge the bullet of round two, but don’t let that spell of feeling great trick you into doing too much.

    • This is the most bizarre disease…we never know what to expect or what part of our bodies will ache. One day its our backs, then the next day it is our feet, or our hands. So weird. We feel strong enough today to go to town and buy dog and cat food. We’ll see how that goes. 🙂 Hugs to you, Lisa.

      • Thinking of you and hopping that your outing went well. it’s hard for me to know which problems of mine wre due to dengue and which were from chikv. but yes, i had really good days and then bad ones. i am better, however, and have had a very full day and still doing oki.. just tired..

        • We nixed the trip into town and instead went to my neighbor’s birthday party. I have had this unusual craving for sweets and ate two huge pieces of birthday cake. It was all I could do to crawl home. I went to bed last night with a fever and horrible cramps in my feet that kept me awake most of the night. Geez. This bizarro disease is getting the best of me.

        • you are so right; the illness has lots of tricks, and just when you think you’re better, there’s a new stumbling block. there were days when it felt like all of the bones in my ankles were broken – but only if i moved my foot, even slightly.

          it does get better, and you’re surely eating well and will bounce back faster than most.

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