5 Facts About Chikungunya That You Should Know

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Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a surge in the number of patients detected with chikungunya. Chikungunya is a mosquito borne viral infection, caused by the same type of mosquito that causes dengue. However, it is not as serious an infection as dengue. Most patients recover from the disease and serious complications are uncommon.Some Chikungunya symptoms can last from weeks to months.

Here are 5 facts that you need to know about this disease:

1 .  What Is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is a viral infection that gets transmitted through bite of  infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue. The infection usually lasts for 7 to 10 days.

2 . What Are The Symptoms?

Most of the people infected by the virus start getting symptoms on 4th to 8th day after getting bitten by the mosquito. Symptoms include:

– Fever: Sudden high-grade fever up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius that can last for 3-4 days.

-Severe joint pains: hands, wrists and ankles are most frequently affected. Joint pains can be very severe and disabling. They usually last for a few days beginning after the fever starts.There can be swelling in the joints especially in the morning. In some people, the pain extends to back and knees as well. Sometimes, these joint pains can be very disabling and may last for several weeks.

– Rash: around half of the patients infected develop a rash. This rash appears on the face, arms, legs and back. The rash can be itcy in some patients. The rash usually appears along with the fever and generally lasts for about a week

-Patients also experience headaches, muscle pain, excessive weakness or tiredness

3 . How Is Chikungunya Diagnosed?

-Chikungunya is diagnosed by a blood test.

-The commonly performed test is detection of chikungunya antibodies through ELISA blood test. This test however taskes longer.

-There are various virological tests like RT-PCR (Reverse Transcriptase PCR). this test helps in earlier detection of virus in the blood- as early as the first 5 days after the onset of symptoms.

4 . What Is The Treatment?

-There is currently no specific vaccine or antiviral drug against chikungunya.

-Treatment revolves around management of symptoms .

-Joint pain and fever are managed by analgesics like paracetamol.

-Hydration should be maintained by ensuring adequate fluid intake (3-4 liters).

-Since the the symptoms are often difficult to differentiate from dengue, hence it is important to not take any painkillers like aspirin, diclofenac and ibuprofen till dengue is ruled out.

5 . What Precautions Should You Take?

The mosquito is active in the daytime, usually more in the early mornings and late evenings. Here are important precautions that you should take:

Prevent Water Stagnation

Look around the house and get rid of any source of water stagnation since the mosquitoes breed in stagnating water. Drain your buckets of water after bathing or washing ensuring that mugs and buckets are dry. Drain the water from water coolers and keep it dry. Do not over-water potted plants to prevent water stagnation in the soil

Use Mosquito Nets

Use mosquito nets at night to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes. You can use them during the day for babies and elderly who tend to take a nap in the afternoon. You should cover up and close any holes in the windows and doors from where mosquitoes might enter. Wire mesh screens can be used on windows to block out mosquitoes.

Apply Mosquito Repellents

Use mosquito repellent cream especially for kids who go out to play. Mosquito repellent liquidators are also widely available in the market and useful for driving out mosquitoes from the house

Cover Up

Use full sleeved clothes and full length pants as much as possible so that most areas of your body are covered. In case, you have kids, take special care to ensure their bodies are covered as much as possible.

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