Longform

Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya Virus Invades America

In mid-April, 39-year-old Belkys Jimenez came down with a high fever. She also developed a headache and then severe pain in her muscles and joints. Her feet and ankles became swollen, making walking painful. Jimenez had long battled hypertension, but this was clearly something new.

Over the next two weeks, her symptoms came and went. Several times, she visited a doctor in her hometown of Bajos de Haina, in the Dominican Republic. He provided acetaminophen for the pain and swelling and promptly dismissed her. The night of April 30, a Wednesday, Jimenez was feeling better. Before going to bed, she told her mother she would wake up early to go to the market.

But the following morning, Jimenez didn't get out of bed. Her worried mother entered the room and found her dark-skinned, soft-featured daughter cold to the touch. There was no pulse. Belkys was dead. "One day she was fine; the next day she was bad," Jimenez's mother told the Dominican television network Telenoticias. "She never got better from this."

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Trevor Bach and Dianna Wray