Chikungunya is one of the most vicious viral illnesses affecting people of all ages worldwide. It is an RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus that belongs to the alphavirus genus of the Togaviridae family. The virus is spread by mosquitoes and is non-contagious in nature. Let’s know more about this illness in detail.
Where does it prevail?
The very first outbreaks of chikungunya were found in Africa, Asia, and Europe, along with certain islands in the Indian and Pacific Ocean. Chikungunya was first discovered during an outbreak in southern Tanzania back in 1952.
In India, the epidemic-prone disease is usually prevalent in areas where mosquitoes breed and develop in huge numbers. That means all the remote interiors, coastal, and developing areas of the country are the epicenters of chikungunya.
What are the symptoms?
When a person is affected by the chikungunya virus, they experience a sudden onset of fever and severe joint pain. Other signs and symptoms of chikungunya typically appear within two days or a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Although the chikungunya disease is not fatal enough to result in death, its symptoms might be severe and disabling. Other symptoms of chikungunya include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and skin rashes. They may limit the patient’s actions, thereby affecting their day-to-day activities. While some patients may overcome joint pain, for others it may persist for a couple of weeks.
How to prevent mosquito bites when travelling to affected areas?
Mosquito and mosquito bites are highly uncontrollable, especially when travelling in the affected areas. Therefore, special care and preventive measures should be taken in order to minimize risks of mosquito bites as well as getting infected by the virus. Here are a few ways to prevent mosquito bites and chikungunya while travelling:
- Opt for clothes with long sleeves and long pants
- If possible, stay in air-conditioned areas whenever indoors
- For places without air-conditioning, ensure the windows are screened
- Have a mosquito net over and around your bed
- Wear a good mosquito repellent, as directed by a physician
- Get rid of still water from both indoors and outdoors
How is chikungunya diagnosed?
In case an individual has developed the aforementioned chikungunya symptoms, and whether or not they have visited an area where the disease is found, it is best to see a healthcare provider at the earliest.
Since the symptoms of chikungunya are similar to those of Zika and dengue, doctors usually order blood tests to detect chikungunya or other similar infections.
What is the treatment?
Unfortunately, there is no commercial drug, vaccine, or effective antiviral treatment formulated to treat chikungunya. However, the treatments available as of now are just for relieving chikungunya symptoms with relevant medications, fluid, and adequate rest.
Doctors may prescribe common pain management and fever medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol), and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc.). Alternatively, detoxifying the body by staying hydrated all the time is advisable. Patients should opt for green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, lentil broth, soups, etc. for quick and effective recovery.