JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville missionary who was infected with Chikungunya virus during a mission trip in Haiti spoke Thursday about the pain she's been in for the last two months.
Tammy Hansen, who attends Chets Creek Church on the Southside, returned to Jacksonville on Monday after a long bout with the virus.
Hansen said she's never felt as sick as she did when came into contact with the virus, and she said she knew immediately it was Chick V.
"I woke up one morning around June 1 and had severe pain in my feet," Hansen said.
About eight weeks later, that pain remains.
Hansen teaches Haitian children English in a school that's open air, with no air conditioner. Mosquitoes are all around and in Haiti, and Hansen said Chick V is pretty common.
"Probably half of the 50 people who live there full-time at the school had it, so I knew exactly what it was," she said.
Hansen said she also had pain in her hands, a rash and a mild headache, which kept her in bed for several days. She said doctors can only treat the symptoms with Tylenol or ibuprofen.
Hansen compares it to getting the flu, but said the sick feeling can last for up to six months. She's hoping her body is now immune to it.
"I don't know if I can get it again," she said. "Some people say you can't, but I will do the same thing that I did in the past."
Hansen said she still plans on returning back to teaching at the missionary school in mid-August. She plans on taking the necessary precautions to use insect repellant, but just hopes she doesn't get sick again.
Hansen said she did not report her case to the Duval County Health Department, but she is seeing her own physician. She suspects there are dozens or even hundreds of cases that are not reported because Chick V has become more common in the U.S.
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