Life, like mosquitos, attacks in unexpected places. Our new jungly neighbourhood is full of big, stripy tiger mosquitos, but not as full of people, so the risk should, in theory, be low. Then, one day, two weeks ago, we visited a neighbour who was unwell. Although she had all the symptoms, she tested negative for dengue, but we sprayed the girls liberally with DEET anyhow, as, well, you never know.
Now, you don’t know, and later that week Tijm was the one who fell ill. He had a temperature, pain in his legs, and not much later developed a blotchy rash. He could not walk. I hurried him to the hospital, where, Tijm in his sister’s buggy, we ran into the same neighbour. They had just done more blood tests. The doctor told me the same he told her. There are a dozen viruses that can produce symptoms like the one she and Tijm were experiencing, dengue only one of them. Luckily, Tijm tested negative. We were then told all the other viruses were not as dangerous, would not kill Tijm, and as they were viruses had one thing in common: there was no cure. Bed rest, plenty of fluids, and he would be ok in about a week. Based on the symptoms he suspected the chikungunya virus, a virus one whose main symptoms are severe joint pains, and itchy rashes, similar to those of dengue, but much less dangerous.
Two weeks and positive blood tests later, I am not too proud to state that I can now pronounce the name of this disease without breaking my tongue. I can tell you that that weird name means ‘that which bends up’ in Makonde language, and I can also guess why they would name it that. And, I can spell it too, chikungunya, without faltering. After Tijm bounced up from five days of tv and unlimited Ipad, daddy has been stricken, and now I, myself have too. I worry for my girls, my mosquito magnet girls. But Linde scratches her numerous bites indifferently, till they bleed, and, so far, is standing strong.