Chikungunya: All That You Need to Know

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Transmitted by infected mosquitoes, Chikungunya’s first outbreak occurred in 1952 in Southern Tanzania. The name of the disease ‘Chikungunya’ originated from Kimakonde language verb which means ‘to become contorted’. With the widespread global occurrence of this infection, it is important that you’re aware how chikungunya virus is transmitted, its symptoms, treatment and prevention. Here are all the details:

Chikungunya Virus Transmission

Chikungunya outbreak has been identified Africa, Asia, America and the Europe, totaling over 60 countries. The virus transmits from one person to another through infected female mosquito bites. When a mosquito feeds on an infected person, it becomes infected too. Thus, transmits the virus to other people through bites. The most common type of mosquitoes involved in virus transmission are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These are the same types of mosquitoes that transmit dengue. They are found throughout the day, and at night. This virus could also spread through infected blood during blood transfusion, however, this is extremely rare and no such cases have been reported till date. There’s a common misconception that the virus can be transmitted to infants from the mother through breastfeeding. Considering the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their child even in areas with Chikungunya virus.

Symptoms of Chikungunya

Usually chikungunya symptoms start appearing 4 to 7 days after the person has been infected. One of the most common signs of chikungunya that appear in each person infected with this virus is high fever (as high as 40°C / 104°F). High fever is usually accompanied by joint pain, and the person may also experience headache, rash, muscle pain and swelling. Some of the less common chikungunya symptoms include maculopapular rash, vomiting, nausea and conjunctivitis. All these effects of chikungunya last for a week, however, joint pain persists for months, and for years in some cases.

How to Diagnose Chikungunya

As soon as you start experiencing chikungunya rashes, chikungunya joint pain and chikungunya arthritis accompanied by high fever, visit your healthcare provider immediately. The process of chikungunya diagnosis might take time as the symptoms are similar to dengue and zika virus. Thus, only a chikungunya blood test can diagnose the virus accurately.

Treatment of Chikungunya

No specific antiviral drug or vaccine has been developed for chikungunya treatment. Treatment is provided to the infected person with respect to the symptoms that he is experiencing. For curing chikungunya joint pain treatment, pain relievers are prescribed. Due to the absence of a proper and specific chikungunya medicine, chikungunya home treatment remedies have been developed. Plenty of fluid intake is advised to prevent dehydration. It is always recommended that you consult your healthcare provider prior to initiating any treatment or medication.

Preventions of Chikungunya

With no chikungunya prevention vaccines or medications, you might be wondering ‘how to get rid of chikungunya?’ Don’t worry! There are a few ways through which you can prevent being infected from this virus. Mosquitoes usually feed on water-filled areas and/or containers. Thus, reducing these would aid in preventing chikungunya. Additionally, the use of insecticides during outbreaks is highly recommended. Spraying them inside your house and around water-filled surfaces would help in reducing the number of mosquitoes in your home. Clothing which minimizes skin exposure and use of mosquito nets is advised in order to reduce the chances of mosquito bites.

Even with these basic prevention measures, you should always make sure that you get a chikungunya test done as soon as you start experiencing one of the symptoms.

Share this information with your friends, colleagues and family, and play your role in creating awareness of this not very widely known virus.

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