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Chikungunya virus infection

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Jul 14, 2019

   3 min     


Chikungunya virus infection, also known as chikungunya fever, is a viral infection that is transmitted through mosquitoes. The condition is characterized by a sudden onset of fever and extreme joint pain. It is a mosquito-borne viral disease and the first outbreak of chikungunya occurred during 1952. Though relatively rare, the condition is found worldwide, especially in Africa and Asia (particularly in the Indian subcontinent).

Signs and Symptoms:

The symptoms of the condition start appearing about 3-7 days after getting infected. Some of the most common symptoms of chikungunya fever are:

  • Sudden onset of fever is one of the first symptoms of chikungunya
  • The fever is usually accompanied by severe joint pain
  • Muscle pain is also common during the condition
  • Many people with chikungunya develop a headache
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Fatigue is also common during chikungunya
  • In some rare cases, people also develop rashes due to the condition

The joint pain caused due to chikungunya is usually very severe in most cases. The virus can cause acute, sub acute, or chronic disease as the symptoms may last anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. Most people affected by the condition usually recover fully within a few weeks but in some cases, symptoms of joint pain may extend to a few months or even a few years. In some very rare cases, the condition may contribute to complications relating to the neurological or the cardiovascular system.

Chikungunya causes and transmission:

As already mentioned, the infection is caused due to the mosquito-borne virus and is transmitted from one human to another through bites of female infected mosquitoes. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are the two most common species of mosquitoes that transmit the condition. These mosquitoes also transmit other dangerous conditions like the dengue. Once the person is bitten by an infected mosquito, the onset of symptoms can occur anywhere between two and twelve days from the bite.

Chikungunya diagnosis:

The symptoms of chikungunya are also quite similar to zika virus or dengue. For the diagnosis of chikungunya, the doctor may conduct serological tests like enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). These tests may confirm the presence of IgM and IgG anti-chikungunya antibodies which are produced by the immune system of the body to fight chikungunya. Both serological and virological methods are used to test the samples.

Chikungunya treatment:

There is no specific treatment available for chikungunya. The treatment is aimed at alleviating the symptoms and associated conditions. There is also no vaccine available to prevent chikungunya. One of the main focus is at alleviating joint pain (which is often excruciating) during chikungunya. For this, various antipyretics and optimal analgesics are used. Besides, experts also recommend taking plenty of rest and consuming plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration in the body.

In some cases, medications are prescribed to reduce fever and pain. These medications should only be taken on the recommendation of a doctor, as certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can further increase the risk of various complications. NSAIDs should not be taken, at least until the possibility of dengue is ruled out, to reduce the risk of bleeding.

Chikungunya prevention:

As already mentioned, there is no vaccine available which can prevent chikungunya. Hence, avoiding mosquito bites is the only way to prevent the condition. Especially during an outbreak, people should take care to avoid mosquitoes and avoid places where mosquitoes breed, like stagnant water bodies, etc. People should use mosquito repellents, coils, creams, and lotions, etc. to prevent mosquito bites during an outbreak. Once a person has been affected by the condition, he or she is not likely to develop it again.

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