Complacent Australian travellers are catching the Chikungunya virus | News.com.auPosted: October 1, 2013
The 30-year-old Perth student is one of a record number of Australians who have returned from South East Asia and surrounding countries with Chikungunya virus this year.
It is an unwelcome souvenir more than 100 Australians — almost 10 times as many than previous years — have brought back from their holidays and experts warn the numbers will continue to climb during the wet season.
Ms Merrett, a medical student at the University of Western Australia, contracted Chikungunya during the last week of her travels through PNG in March — and she is still feeling daily pain today.
“I wasn’t overly complacent, I was quite worried about malaria and taking tablets to avoid that,” she said.
“I was sleeping under a mosquito net every night and pretty good about wearing long sleeves in the evening and putting mosquito repellent on my ankles and hands in the evening.
“But maybe because I was there for eight weeks and maybe because there was an outbreak at the time (I was unlucky).”
For the first week Ms Merrett spent 20 hours a day in bed.
She spent four months taking anti-inflammatories daily just to ease the pain in her muscles and joints.