Back in May, before we left Grenada to fly to the states, the Zika virus was BIG news. We heard how it was an epidemic in the Caribbean, but we hadn’t seen any sign of it. No one we knew caught it and we didn’t hear of any locals with it. So we thought it was a big joke and laughed about it. Oooooo, scary, watch out for Zika! Haha! Since returning to Grenada six weeks later, we no longer think it a joke.
Since we returned, we spoke to at least 20 cruisers that contracted the Zika virus. Honestly, that is the majority of people we have spoken to in our first couple of days back. So now it seems more people have gotten it than haven’t. The symptom severity varies from person to person. One person may feel mild to no symptoms and others are absolutely miserable for a week. Symptoms include fever, nausea/vomiting, joint pain, muscle pain, rash, and fatigue… Everyone we spoke to either contracted it in Carriacou or first noticed the symptoms there. One person even described the mosquitoes as looking and acting different in Carriacou: flying slow and sluggish, easy to swat, and skinny. Nothing scientific there, just their observation. I haven’t read anything describing a difference in the mosquitoes.
Zika is not a new virus, though it may be new to the areas it is now being seen. The Zika Virus first came to the attention of the world in 1947. A Rhesus monkey living in the Zika Forest (hence the name) in Uganda, contracted an unknown febrile illness. Scientists isolated a new transmissible agent from the febrile Rhesus monkey which was then named Zika Virus or ZIKV (Source http://zika-virus.com).
The Chikungunya virus hit the Caribbean hard the year before we arrived (2013). We were told 90% of the Caribbean was affected. Chikungunya was vicious and some people felt the effects for two years, especially in joint pain. Fortunately, Zika isn’t this vicious and we haven’t heard of the symptoms lasting longer than a week. However, Zika has been tied to microcephaly, a neurodevelopmental disorder. This is the scariest part of Zika that has women of child bearing age worried. It has now been found to be sexually transmitted from an infected man. Crazy!
Dave and I are starting to use insect repellent religiously, but bites still happen. Last night I was bitten on my ankle. We are next traveling to Carriacou for the regatta, so I am a little worried. I’m glad we are past the whole childbearing thing as I am sure it is just a matter of time before we come down with it. Our friends described the rash as covering their entire bodies and face, setting their skin on fire after swimming. The rash and the joint pain are the worst symptoms and I am certainly not looking forward to it. We hope for good wind for the regatta, not just for an exciting race but also to keep the mosquitoes away. Wish us luck.
Some places have always fumigated to help with mosquitoes and more are now picking up the call to control the Zika spread. Please Carriacou, hear the call!!!