Chikungunya: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

chikungunya

This year Delhi has experienced more than expected rainfall during the monsoon. At one end, it has really been a blessing to the Delhiites as the rains have brought down the temperature significantly. On the other hand, with so much rainfall, there has been a major spurt in mosquito breeding, thus resulting in various diseases.  While Dengue has always been a major cause of concern for the health department in Delhi, his year, Chikungunya too has been on the rise.

Chikungunya, like Dengue,  too is spread to humans by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and is often misdiagnosed as Dengue as symptoms of both the diseases are similar.

The first outbreak of the disease was seen in the year 1952, in the Makonde plateau, along the border between Tanzania and Mozambique. The disease occurs predominantly in Africa, Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.

Causes

Chikungunya virus is transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquito bites. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, a household container breeder and aggressive daytime biter which is attracted to humans, is the primary vector of chikungunya infection to humans.

Signs and Symptoms

The incubation period of chikungunya is usually 1-12 days. This means the disease manifests 1 to 12 days after the mosquito bite. The symptoms of chikungunya include the following- 

  • High Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint Pain
  • Arthritis affecting multiple joints.
  • Rash (a rare occurrence)
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Conjunctivitis in some cases,
  • Vomiting
  • Bleeding or hemorrhage (a rare occurrence )

A study suggests that most patients recover fully from chikungunya. They get better after a few days, however sometimes joint pain can persist for a longer period after the other symptoms have disappeared. Over 12% of patients tend to develop chronic joint symptoms.

Treatment

Once Chikungunya is diagnosed an after ruling out Dengue, paracetamol can be administered. There are no specific drugs to cure Chikungunya. Treatment is primarily aimed at relieving symptoms such as fever and joint pain.

Infected persons should be protected from further mosquito exposure, by staying indoors and/or under a mosquito net during the first few days of illness, so that they do not contribute to the transmission cycle.

Preventive Measures

In order to prevent chikungunya from spreading, people should not allow water stagnation, protect themselves from mosquito bites, keep the surroundings clean, dispose of unnecessary items such as old tires, flower pots, cans, etc., use mosquito repellents or mosquito net, and keep their bodies well covered. 

Author: Lucas

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