What is Chikungunya? Know the causes, symptoms, prevention, treatment and more.

Chikungunya: Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The term “chikungunya” is derived from the Kimakonde language which means “to contort”. The term twisted here refers to the appearance of the sick person suffering from muscle and joint pain as a repercussion of the infection.

The first and major outbreak of this deadly disease was noted in 1952 in Tanzania. Spread of disease caused by the chikungunya virus CHIKV is identified throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

What is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is an insect-borne disease. The main vectors of the disease are the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, the same mosquitoes that transmit the dengue virus. It is an RNA virus that is related to the alphavirus genus of the Togaviridae family.

The non-contagious disease, however, is picked up by mosquitoes when they come into contact with an infected person, causing further spread. Early symptoms of the disease include sudden high fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, rash, nausea, and red eyes. It is believed that once an individual is cured, they are expected to be immune to future infections.

What are the symptoms of Chikungunya?

According to the Center Of Disease Control & Prevention, while 85% of patients have symptoms, a small number remain asymptomatic. The two types of chikungunya mosquitoes usually bite at night. According to experts, symptoms are visible 3-7 days after an infected mosquito bites a person. The list of the most common signs of chikungunya is given below:

  • Sudden increase in body temperature.
  • Intense joint and muscle pain accompanied by headache.
  • Myalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Maculopapular rash

Sometimes people with the infectious disease also develop neurological disorders, most commonly swelling or degeneration of the brain, inflammation or degeneration of the myelin sheaths around neurons, Guillain-Barré syndrome, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis , hypotonia (in neonates) and visual processing problems.

Additionally, in rare cases, people may develop behavioral changes, seizures, irritation of the cerebellum or meninges, paralysis of the oculomotor nerve, or paralysis of the eye muscles. Reports show that the death rate from chikungunya is 1 in 1000.

What are the preventive measures against Chikungunya?

“Prevention is better than cure”, this quote in English is the only mantra to deal with the spread of chikungunya. There is no approved vaccine or medication for chikungunya, but the basic ways to prevent mosquito bites are:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and full pants.
  • Use of insect repellents on skin or clothing
  • Adequate mosquito nets to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Elimination of stagnant or stagnant water in or around the house.
  • Use insecticide-treated mosquito nets over the bed.
  • Avoid traveling to areas affected by a chikungunya outbreak
  • Use of mosquito coils and insecticide sprays during the day.
  • Garbage disposal should only be carried out in closed bins and containers.

Pregnant women, newborns or the elderly are very prone to Chikungunya. So, it is mainly advised to avoid any type of travel and neglect of preventive measures as it increases the risks.

What are the ways to treat Chikungunya?

As of 2022, there are no approved or specific antiviral drugs for chikungunya. Health experts simply provide supportive care to relieve symptoms. The most common practices for treating chikungunya are:

  • Antipyretics to lower fever
  • Analgesics to relieve pain and lower fever
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Rest

Also, for patients with persistent joint pain, anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroids, including physical therapy, are suggested.

The World Health Organization (WHO), on the other hand, focuses on training in clinical management, diagnosis and vector control at the regional level with some of its collaborating centres.

Comments are closed.