Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease that occurs when an infected mosquito bites a healthy individual and injects the virus into the bloodstream. The term “Chikungunya” is coined from the Kimikonde language which means “To walk bent”. The key symptoms of Chikungunya include severe long-term crippling pain in the joints and fever.
What causes Chikungunya?
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans when a mosquito infected with the chikungunya virus bites a healthy individual. This virus is not contagious hence a person infected with chikungunya can’t transmit it.
When a mosquito bites a person who has chikungunya, it becomes the carrier of the virus and can transmit the virus to any healthy individual it bites.
What are the symptoms of Chikungunya?
The symptoms may take anywhere from 3 to 7 days to surface. The most prominent symptoms of chikungunya include the following
– Fever accompanied by joint pain
– Muscle pain
– Inflammation of the joints
Most of the symptoms are relieved within a week except for severe joint pain which can take several months to heal. Deaths due to chikungunya are very rare.
Newborn, older adults over the age of 65 and people with problems like high blood pressure, heart problems, or diabetes are the ones who are most prone to complications. Although once a person has been infected with the virus, they get immune from further infections.
Methods of diagnosis
The diagnosis includes a thorough examination of the medical history and travel history of the person accompanied by a blood test which proves the be the best method of diagnosis since almost all mosquito-borne diseases have overlapping symptoms.
Methods of treatment
There is no one-short treatment for chikungunya, the main focus of the treatment is to manage and relieve the symptoms. The steps followed for the treatment include the following
– Getting plenty of rest
– Drinking surplus amount of fluids to avoid dehydration
– Taking acetaminophen and paracetamol to reduce body pain and fever.
– The infected person should prevent any further mosquito bites at all costs as the infected mosquito can transmit the disease to other people
Methods of prevention
Since there is no particular vaccine for chikungunya, our best bet is to prevent mosquito bites. Here are some precautions one can exercise to minimise the risk of getting infected with chikungunya
– Wearing long sleeves when travelling outdoors to minimize the area of skin exposed to mosquitoes
– Sleeping inside a mosquito net
– Installing screens on the windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering.
– Use mosquito repellants and coils during the evening time when mosquitoes are most active.
One should also take the following measures to prevent the mosquitoes from breeding
– Remove any stagnant water, if present, in and around your house.
– Keeping water containers such as water tanks covered.
– Keeping wet garbage in closed garbage bags
By following the steps mentioned above, one can minimize the chances of getting infected with chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases in general.