In El Salvador, health officials report nearly 30,000 suspected cases, up from 2,300 at the beginning of August, and hospitals are filled with people with the telltale signs of the illness, including joint pain so severe it can be hard to walk.
“The pain is unbelievable,” said Catalino Castillo, a 39-year-old seeking treatment at a San Salvador hospital. “It’s been 10 days and it won’t let up.”
Chikungunya is a word that comes from the Makonde language of Tanzania in eastern Africa and translates roughly as “that which bends up,” in reference to the severe arthritis-like ache in joints that causes sufferers to contort with pain. It’s usually accompanied by a spiking fever and headache. There have been only 113 deaths linked to the region’s outbreak, according to the most recent data, but chikungunya can be crippling.
Herman Slater, a 60-year-old gardener in Jamaica’s capital of Kingston, said he was laid out for almost two weeks this month with unimaginable joint pain, hammer-pounding headaches and fevers that came in waves.
“I tell you, I was surprised by how painful it was. It was taking me five minutes to get out of bed, and then I could hardly even walk,” Slater said. “My hands were so bad I couldn’t open a bottle, couldn’t comb my hair. Every night I was wet from sweat.”
People should not have to suffer like this.
And if the CDC isn’t tasking a company to create a vaccine, the havoc it’ll wreak in the Southern U.S. will be epic.