Chikungunya Fever

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Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya is an infectious disease caused by Chikungunya virus. The virus is transmitted to humans when specific type of mosquito bites them.

mosquito-542156_640Mostly, the mosquito named Aedes aegypti is responsible in the spread of the disease. The same mosquito also transmits Dengue virus to human.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is mostly found in tropical areas including Indian sub-continent, Africa, Latin America and Pakistan. Chikungunya infection is common in areas where population of mosquitoes, especially, Aedes aegypti type is high.

This mosquito usually bites during early morning and late afternoon time.

Virus symbolic-1446110_640

There is no vaccine available to prevent chikungunya infection.

Chikungunya infection mostly does not result in death. However, patients feel miserable due to severe symptoms.

thermometer-869392_640Some symptoms of the chikungunya infection are similar to the symptoms of dengue fever that is why it could be misdiagnosed if dengue infection is also common in the area.

Symptoms usually starts to develop in 3 – 7 days after the mosquito bite

Main symptoms are:

  • Sudden fever
  • Severe joint pain - that makes movement of the patient difficult. The duration of the joint pain varies, most patients feel better within a week. Although, some patients experience discomfort due to joint pain for months.

Other symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea
  • Skin rash

Most patients fully recover from the disease.

Chikungunya could be serious, especially in new born babies, elderly people and people who have other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and osteoarthritis.

The infection occurs when the chikungunya virus enters the body through mosquito bite.

Chikungunya is an RNA virus belongs to alphavirus genus of family Togaviridae.

The virus is transmitted through the specific type of mosquito called Aedes aegypti.

Chikungunya virus cannot be transmitted directly from person to person.

However, chikungunya virus completes the infection cycle when the mosquito containing the chikungunya virus bites a person and transfer the virus in the body.  The person gets the chikungunya infection.  The infection further spreads when the mosquito not containing the virus bites the chikungunya patient who have the virus in the blood.  The virus is then transferred in the mosquito from the patient and then further transmitted by the same mosquito biting the healthy person to spread the infection.  The number of cases of chikungunya infection increases exponentially as more people are infected who further transfer the virus to the mosquito which bites more healthy persons.

It is therefore, recommended to keep the chikungunya patient in isolation so that further spread can be stopped.

Risk of chikungunya infection increases for people who live in the areas having inappropriate sanitary conditions and poor cleanliness standards. Stagnant water in ponds, open sewage, water containers in farms and cities provide perfect opportunity for Aedes aegypti mosquito to breed.

To prevent chikungunya fever, measures at community and personal level should be undertaken to avoid standing water in the streets, parks, backyards of houses in the neighborhoods and prevent mosquito bite by using appropriate insecticide, mosquito repellent products and nets.

Outbreaks of chikungunya infection has occurred in the following regions of the world:

  • Africa
  • Latin America
  • Caribbean island
  • Indian Sub-continent including Pakistan

In addition to other reasons, increase travel has contributed in the spread of the disease across continents.

Chikungunya is most often diagnosed with typical clinical signs and symptoms.

Chikungunya infection should be suspected in patient experiencing high fever, severe joint pain and fatigue.  Due to similarity in many symptoms, it could be misdiagnosed as dengue infection. The doctor may request for some blood test to confirm the diagnosis.

Travel history of the patient also helps in diagnosis; in case patient has recently visited the endemic country.

There is no specific treatment recommended. The virus takes its own course and most patients start to feel better in a week.

Supportive symptomatic treatment for example regular fever controlling medication along with some pain medications (analgesics) are prescribed to relieve the pain.

Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (pain killers) should not be used unless dengue fever is ruled out, because these medication can further dilute the blood in dengue fever patient.

Patient should consume plenty of fluids (water and juices) to prevent dehydration. Patient should also stay home and take plenty of rest

Most people completely recover in 1 - 2 weeks.

There is no vaccine available to prevent chikungunya infection.

There is no vaccine available to prevent chikungunya infection.

mosquito-repellent-492856_640Chikungunya infection can be prevented by avoiding mosquito bite. Following measures can be taken to avoid mosquito bite:

  • Wear full sleeves shirts, pants, socks to protect mosquito bite especially during early morning and evening time
  • Use appropriate insecticides and mosquito repellent products
  • Use mosquito sleeping nets, wherever possible
  • Avoid standing water in the house, streets and neighbourhoods
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