Chikungunya revives herbal remedies in Antigua

The acute ache started in her ankles before quickly spreading through her body, crippling her muscles, pounding her joints and leaving her hands and feet severely swollen.
Last summer, the 38-year-old from Antigua and Barbuda was struck down with the debilitating chikungunya virus which has swept across the Caribbean infecting more than 800,000 people since it was first detected in the region in December 2013. The mosquito-borne disease, which originated in Africa and has no known cure, is characterised by the abrupt onset of fever, deep joint and muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and a rash.
"I was fine when I went to bed," Ms Berzas says, "but when I woke up in the morning and tried to get up my ankles hurt so much I couldn't stand. It was very scary. After that I started getting different pains all over my body. Soon my hands were so swollen I couldn't hold anything."
In Antigua, where the minimum wage is just $3 (£2) per hour and a visit to a conventional doctor can set one back $44, herbalists specialising in "bush medicine" are often the first port of call.
"When I got desperate I went to Dr Amu, the naturopath. He gave me two teas to drink and an oil to rub on my skin. It soothed the rash and diminished the pain a lot. It didn't go away but at least it was manageable," Ms Berzas recalls.

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