Chikugunya – Chicken or Tiger Malaria
What is Chikugunya?
Chikugunya is a virus transmitted by infected mosquitoes. It causes malaria like symptoms with joint pains that often start suddenly. Headaches, muscle aches and rashes are also common symptoms.
Chikugunya is often not fatal. However, the symptoms are disabling and some people can get severe complications.
How is the Virus Transmitted?
The Chikugunya virus is spread by bites from infected Aedes mosquitoes. These mozzies are identified by the white stripes on the back of their bodies and unlike the malaria carrying critters, these ones are aggressive day time biters with feeding peaks at dawn and dusk.
What are the Symptoms of Chikugunya?
The symptoms of this virus often appear 3 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquitoes and some patients often feel better after a couple of days or weeks. However, some may develop longer term joint pains. The most common symptoms of the virus are:
- A sudden onset of fever greater than 39°C;
- Sever joint pains in arms and legs;
- Muscle ache;
- Nausea, and;
How Do You Avoid Getting Infected?
The most obvious thing is to avoid mosquito bites and to reduce the chances of getting bitten, the following tips will help:
- Wear long sleeve shirts and pants;
- Use mosquito repellent on exposed areas on the body;
- Install window screens on houses;
- Sleep under a mosquito net, and;
- A person already infected with the virus should also avoid getting bit by following the above tips.
Prevention is Better than Cure
Since there is no drug treatment or vaccines available, prevention measures should be taken to ensure breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquitoes are destroyed and the virus controlled.
According to Papua New Guinea’s Department of Health, these actions should be taken every week to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes:
- Remove any excess water in empty cans, tires, rubbish drums, flower pots etc.;
- Drain tanks, drums and water storage containers etc., before refilling;
- Change water in flower vases;
- Cover inlets of water storage devices like tanks with screens to prevent mosquitoes using them as breeding grounds.
Also once a month, you should do the following:
- Clear leaves in roofs and gutters and apron drains where feasible.
It is also advisable not to litter around the house and waste should be disposed of properly to ensure there are no breeding areas for mosquitoes.
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How Do You Treat Chikugunya?
Currently, there is no specific medication for the virus, nor are there any vaccines available. However, it is advisable to treat it with anti-pyretics like Panadol etc – but do not treat with Asprin.
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