The Chikungunya Virus
The Chikungunya Virus (CHIKV) is a virus which is transmitted by bites from the Aedes Mosquitos. The symptoms of Chikungunya disease are very similar to those of Dengue Fever which is also a Mosquito borne infection.
As with Dengue fever there is presently no treatment for Chikungunya fever (CHIKV) so the best protection against infection is not to get bitten in the first place. Sleep under a mosquito net in infected areas, use mosquito coils or vapourisers in your home or hotel and most important a light application of long lasting DEET spray or lotion on exposed flesh.
Mosquitos will bite any bit of flesh but favour the ankles, inner elbows, neck and ear lobes. Some of the more persistent will actually bite through light clothes so a quick spray of shirts and blouses before you dress is a worthwhile precaution.
Typically Chikungunya Fever develops two to four days after you are bitten. A temperature of 40C is to be expected along with severe headache, rash, sensitivity to light and joint pain. The fever may be of only short duration but other symptoms may last for months, depending on the age and health of the person bitten. Deaths are rare and during the three years up to 2008 there were none recorded.
A blood test at a hospital will determine the infection. This is important to ensure it is not the more serious Dengue fever. Bed rest, Paracetamol and fluids are the best treatment.
Chikungunya Fever, not uncommon in parts of Africa and India, is classed as a re-emerging disease and in the middle of May 2009 there have been between 15 and 20 thousand cases recorded in the far South of Thailand. There have even been a few cases further north in Phuket. The majority of people bitten appear to be rubber tappers who work in the damp shaded areas which the mosquitoes like. The present epidemic seems to have originated in Malaysia.
Cases have been reported in 36 countries. In the past cases have been recorded in Italy and Australia.
The word Chikungunya is of Swahili origin and means 'something which bends up'