Via WPBF.com: Chikungunya scares away Haiti aid groups. Click through for a video. Excerpt:
FORT PIERCE, Fla —Officials with Missionary Flights International said Thursday that the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus has aid groups scared to go to Haiti.
“Approximately 100 passengers have canceled due to the (chikungunya) virus,” pilot Harold Martin said. “We’ve never seen anything quite like this.”
MFI is a nonprofit based at the St. Lucie County Airport that flies church groups and aid organizations to Haiti for service projects, but when the Caribbean chikungunya outbreak reached epidemic proportions, Martin said dozens of people started canceling their trips.
“When the people aren’t going, the vital service projects in Haiti aren’t happening,” Martin said.
Volunteers and even one of MFI’s mechanics have come back from Haiti showing symptoms of chikungunya.
“He’s in his early 60s, and he was out for about three weeks,” Martin said. “The joint paint was excruciating.”
MFI pilots have started keeping strong DEET repellant in their cockpits and spraying themselves down before landing in Haiti.