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A new epidemic has exploded across Haiti in recent days, already sickening thousands and stressing an already taxed healthcare system. The epidemic has doubled the amount of patients at the Heart to Heart International (HHI) clinics in Port-au-Prince and in Leogane. Even some members of our HHI staff are now coming down with this illness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): the Chikungunya Virus (pronounced: chih-koon-Goon-yah) appeared for the first time in the Americas in December 2013 on the island of St. Martin and from there has spread quickly across the Caribbean. It’s an illness that has until now been confined to the other side of the world, mostly in Africa and Asia. Now that it’s the rainy season on Hispaniola – Chikungunya is spreading exponentially in Haiti.
Chikungunya is spread by the bite of the Aedes mosquito, and while rarely fatal, it is a debilitating illness. The symptoms are similar to those of dengue fever, another disease spread by these mosquitoes.
Someone afflicted with Chikungunya will have:
- swollen joints
- joint pain, sometimes severe
- may also have a headache, muscle pain and a rash
Many people afflicted by this illness will feel better in about a week. However, in certain cases, the joint pain will become chronic and last for months, even for a few years. Again the CDC cautions that there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat the chikungunya virus infection.
But we’re doing what we can. We’re increasing the number of Haitian medical staff at our clinics to handle the patient overload, working to treat the symptoms with what works – fluids and pain/fever reducing medicine, and mounting an education operation to deliver mosquito netting and to inform people as to this newest disease to afflict Haiti.
This outbreak of Chikungunya Fever is exactly why HHI needs to be prepared to respond quickly to people in need. We’ve already taken action. We had to. But we can only sustain our response, and prepare for what comes next, by donors stepping up to help.
PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING NOW
TO OUR DISASTER READINESS & RESPONSE FUND.
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