A new disease has hit the Caribbean islands. It's called Chikungunya fever, and it's transferred to humans by mosquitoes.
It's recently shown up in 17 different countries, including Haiti, where a Brunswick County couple says they experienced the illness.
With symptoms like joint pain, muscle spasms, and a red rash, Jay and Diane Merritt say they know the signs of Chikungunya first hand.
The Merritts say they took every precaution they could to avoid mosquitoes during their mission trip to Haiti.
"They're so tiny you don't realize that they're even there and when they bite you there's no welt," Diane said. The mosquito nets and bug spray weren't enough to keep the couple from getting what they believe was the chikungunya virus.
"It was kinda like having the flu," Diane said. "If it's really bad you go to the doctor, if it doesn't you just kinda wait it out."
The Merritts say they didn't need a doctor to tell them they had been infected because the symptoms were everywhere.
"It was like dominoes," Jay said. "Everybody had it. One person one day, one person the next day."
They say joint pain and a red rash were the signs of an infection.
"I'm just sitting there looking at myself breaking out," Diane said. "It was within a matter of minutes, I'm watching this go down my arm and bust out in these big, red things. "
It lasted only a few days but opened the couples' eyes up to what people in Haiti were dealing with every day.
"One of the guys who was sifting sand says I've got chikungunya but I need the work," Jay said.
"If they are itchy, they don't have a Benadryl they can go take," Diane added. "If they have a headache, they don't have a Tylenol they can go take, so they just basically endure it until its over."
Jay and Diane say the experience won't keep them from sharing God's word and love around the world though.
"It was something I would have preferred not to have gone through, but it wasn't a situation where I felt like I couldn't go back and live there again," Diane said.
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