CHIKUNGUNYA

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by the infected mosquitoes. The first out break was described to be in southern Tanzania. Much is heard these days about it and i see people around are anxious and in panic about chikungunya. many morbidity and mortality cases are reported mainly from Delhi NCR. Hope once you go through this article you may have better understanding and help to decrease your worry.

The virus is transmitted from human to human by the bites of infected female mosquitoes. Most commonly, the mosquitoes involved are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, two species which can also transmit other mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue. These mosquitoes are said to be  found biting in day light.

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What are the symptoms?

Onset of illness occurs usually in a week but can range from 1 week to 2 weeks.The symptoms include fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms are muscle pain, rash, headache, nausea and fatigue. The joint pain is often very debilitating but usually lasts for a few days or may be prolonged to weeks. Hence it can cause acute, subacute or chronic debilitating disease. Severe joint pain is the most problematic symptom.

 

How is it diagnosed?

Several methods can be used for diagnosis. Virus isolation and serological test. Serological tests, such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), may confirm the presence of ‘IgM and IgG’ anti-chikungunya antibodies. IgM antibody levels are highest 3 to 5 weeks after the onset of illness and persist for about 2 months. Samples collected during the first week after the onset of symptoms should be tested by both serological and virological methods (RT-PCR).

 

What is the treatment of Chikungunya?

There is no specific antiviral drug or treatment for chikungunya. It is cured by immune system in almost all cases. Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms, including the joint pain using anti-pyretics, optimal analgesics and fluids. Here is what needs to be done:

  • Take plenty of rest.
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Take medicine such as acetaminophen or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain. Some doctors may prescribe other group of analgesics depending upon the symptoms.
  • Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding).

 

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            Hot fomentation and slight massage even during acute phase can be a great relief. Post -acute phase or once the severe symptoms come down, one should go for mild exercise like stretching exercises, slowly rotating the joints. This will prevent you from joint stiffness.

 

How can you prevent Chikungunya?

There are no vaccines yet for chikungunya. Good part is many specific anti viral and vaccine are still in experimental stage. Hopefully in near future we will be able to have them.

Currently only way to prevent chikungunya is to prevent from mosquito bite. I have mentioned few of the methods already in previous blog page and will be coming up with more details soon.

If you have chikungunya, prevent mosquito bites for the first week of your illness. This is a social help you will be doing. I will tell you how? During the first week of infection, chikungunya virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to many other people.

Is there any post recovery concern associated with Chikungunya?

Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years. Occasional cases of eye, neurological and heart complications have been reported, as well as gastrointestinal complaints. Serious complications are not common, but in older people, the disease can contribute to serious morbidity. Often symptoms in infected individuals are mild and the infection may go unrecognized, or be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue occurs.

 

Any alternative medicine?

I have seen many people ask for any alternative therapy like Ayurveda or homeopathy. Yes you can go in for that but even in that, the medicines u will be given is only for symptomatic relief. I have come across certain cases where the patient gets the medicine from any medical store and start consuming. This is a big alert for self!! NO SIDE EFFECTS is a myth. Most importantly many ayurvedic medicines which claim to relieve pain may contain steroids. These kind of medicines initially though it may be very pain free but in longer run can affect many other systems in body. So one should always go to a consultant for proper guidance and authenticity of the medicine you take whichever therapy you follow.

            Lastly, chikungunya is a self limiting disease. So do not panic or get anxious, all it needs is diagnosis at appropriate time, plenty of rest with good healthy food and medications for decreasing the symptoms. Remember every body is different and so every individual reacts to a particular disease or medicine though similar but little different.

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