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Chikungunya-a mosquito borne viral disease

Updated on June 25, 2017

Mosquitio-brone viral disease chikungunya is transmitted by the bites of infected female mosquitoes – Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus from human to human. It is mostly similar to Dengu fever. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are typically found in and around urban and suburban dwellings and usually bite during the early morning and late afternoon.

Chikungunya viruses are transmitted during the mosquito bite. Then the viruses multiply in humans and can be picked up by other uninfected mosquitoes as they bite infected humans to complete the viral replication cycle.

In 1952, chikungunya is first described during an outbreak in southern Tanzania. Chikungunya virus belongs to the alphavirus genus of the family Togaviridae. It is also known as arbovirus as it is transmitted by mosquitoes. The name of ‘chikungunya’ derives from the Kimakonde language of southern Tanzania. Locally, chikungunya means ‘to become contorted’ or ‘ to walk bent over’.

Symptoms

Following symptoms can be seen in chikungunya patients –

1) acute fever (may be 104°)

2) severe arthralgia or joint pain

3) myalgia or muscle ache

4) headache

5) nausea or vomiting

6) fatigue or tiredness

7) conjunctivitis

8) reduction of blood pressure and urine

9) rash

Most of the chikungunya patients can recover fully by seven to ten days but in some cases, joint pain may persist for a very long time (may be several months or 2-3 years in some surveys with ongoing arthritis, depression and fatigue). Once a person has been infected by this virus, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections by chikungunya virus.

Treatment

There is no vaccine for chikungunya virus. So, if anybody is affected by chikungunya virus, he or she may –

1) take plenty of rest.

2) may take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or paracetamol as per doctor’s advice. Patients can also take suppository.

3) drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration.

4) should not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

5) eat vitamin C rich fruits like lemon, orange, guava etc.

Prevention

Chikungunya virus can be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes bit during the day and at night. So we have to be careful all the time. We can protect ourselves from mosquito bites by –

1) wearing full-sleeved shirts and long pants.

2) sleeping under a mosquito bed net.

3) using air-conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

4) emptying stagnant water from containers such as flower pots or buckets.

5) using insect repellents. Apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.

6) avoiding travelling to areas experiencing outbreaks.

7) using mosquito coils and insecticide vaporizers.

Diagnosis

Chikungunya can be diagnosed by blood test. During the first week, collected samples should be tested by both serological and virological methods (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction). But sometimes doctors test the drop in the number of leucocytes in the blood sample.

Chikungunya can also circulate with the help of monkeys, birds and cattle. Sometimes chikungunya develop encephalitis, an infection of the brain that can lead to memory problems, dementia and even death. So, we have to be careful about chikungunya.

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