What is Chikungunya?
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti and aedes albopictus mosquitoes. The disease is closely similar to dengue fever.
The word "Chikungunya" comes from the word “kungunyala” in Makonde language which means “that which bends up” or "Bent over in Pain". Outbreaks are most likely to occur in post-monsoon period when the vector (mosquitoes) density is very high.
Symptoms of Chikungunya
Symptoms usually begin 3‒7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Common Symptoms are -
1. Fever : The fever varies from low grade to high grade, lasting for 24 to 48 hours. Fever rises abruptly in some, reaching 39-40 degree Celcius, with shaking chills and rigour and usually subsides with use of antipyretics.
2. Pain in Joints : Pain and swelling in one or more joints may be there. Knee, Wrist, Small joints or Fingers are commonly affected. The joint pain tends to be worse in the morning. The pain may remit for 2-3 days and then reappear.
5. Muscle Pain
Some facts about the Chikungunya Mosquito
• Aedes species mosquitoes transmit chikungunya virus.
• This mosquito breeds in clean stagnant water and takes eight to 10 days to mature from larvae.
• The Aedes mosquito breeds in domestic settings such as flower vases, water-storage containers, air coolers, etc. and peri-domestic areas such as construction sites, coconut shells, discarded household junk items (tyres, plastic and metal cans, etc.).
• These same types of mosquitoes transmit dengue virus
• The adult female mosquito rests in cool and shady areas in domestic and peri-domestic settings
• These mosquitoes bite mostly during the daytime.
When to seek medical help?
• Fever persisting for more than five days.
• Intractable pain.
• Postural dizziness, cold extremities.
• Decreased urine output.
• Any bleeding under the skin or through any orifice.
• Incessant vomiting
Treatment of Chikungunya
• There is no specific medicine to treat Chikungunya. It is treated symptomatically.
• Medicines are given to reduce the fever and pain.
If you have Chikungunya Infection, follow these instructions:
• Take plenty of rest.
• Drink fluids to prevent dehydration. You can take ORS Powder or Lemon Water.
• Consult your doctor. He may give you medicine such as paracetamol to reduce fever and pain.
• Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding).
• If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your doctor before taking additional medication.
• During the first week of infection, chikungunya virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then transmit the virus to other people.
• To prevent further spread of the virus, it is important for people to avoid mosquito bites during the first week of illness.
Illness Course and Outcomes
• Most patients starts feeling better within a week.
• Some people may develop long-term joint pain.
• Chikungunya disease does not often result in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling.
• Hospitalisation is rarely required.
• People at increased risk for severe disease include newborns exposed during delivery, older adults (≥65 years), and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.
Diagnosis of Chikungunya
• The symptoms of chikungunya are similar to those of Dengue and Zika, diseases spread by the same mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya.
• See your doctor if you develop the symptoms described above and have visited an area where chikungunya is found.
• If you have recently traveled, tell your healthcare provider when and where you traveled.
• Your doctor may order blood tests to look for exact cause of fever. It may include blood testing for chikungunya, Dengue, Malaria, Typhoid etc.
• Symptoms can be very like those of dengue fever, so suspect cases will need to have a blood test to check for these and chikungunya antibodies.
DO NOT SELF DIAGNOSE! See your doctor if you think you or a family member might have chikungunya.
Prevention of Chikungunya
• There is no vaccine or medication to prevent chikungunya virus infection or disease.
• People at increased risk for severe disease should consider not traveling to areas with ongoing chikungunya outbreaks.
• If you are sick with chikungunya, avoiding mosquito bites will help prevent further spread of the virus. Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
• Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
• Help reduce the number of mosquitoes outside your home by emptying standing water from unattended containers such as flowerpots, cans or buckets.
• When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
• Use mosquito repellents on exposed skin.
• Wear permethrin-treated clothing.
• Support local vector control programs.