Chikungunya is a relatively rare viral fever that is caused by the bite of infected mosquitoes. These mosquitoes can be found biting throughout daylight hours, though there may be peaks of activity in the early morning and late afternoon. The incubation period is usually 1 to 12 days. This means the disease manifests 1 to 12 days after the bite of the mosquito. Chikungunya is sometimes mistaken for dengue which also manifests with similar symptoms.
Even though mortality rateof Chikungunya is less compared to dengue, symptoms last longer and affect the person. Most patients recover fully from Chikungunya virus infection. They get better after a few days, however sometimes joint pains can persist for a longer period after the other symptoms have disappeared.
- Abrupt onset of Fever with chills ( >104 F)
- Joint Pain
- Arthritis affecting multiple joints, can be debilitating
- Swelling of joints
- Sometime there may be infection of the conjunctiva of the eye
- Nausea and vomitings
- Bleeding, Rash may occur rarely
How to manage it:
- It is important to rule out dengue first by necessary investigations as the mortality rate is higher with dengue by employing some serological tests.
- Mainstay of treatment is relieving symptoms, supportive care and rest
- To relieve symptoms of fever and joint pain the drug commonly used is paracetamol.
- There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for chikungunya.
- Avoid self-medication particularly antibiotics, steroids, and other painkillers specially overdosing.
- Aspirin should be avoided.
- Ensure adequate intake of water orally to maintain urine output at least more than a litre per day to prevent dehydration.
- Use cold compresses to involved and painful joints. Avoid hot compresses in acute stages as it can worsen the joint symptoms.
- Movement and mild exercise tend to improve morning stiffness and pain, but heavy exercise may worsen your symptoms.
- Hospital admission is necessary if symptoms worsen.
The best methods of prevention involve minimizing contact with mosquitoes.
- Elimination of stagnant water at home, schools and workplace to avoid breeding of mosquitoes.
- Using insect repellents over the exposed parts of the body.
- For protection during outbreaks of chikungunya, clothing which minimizes skin exposure to the day-biting mosquitoes is advised.
- Using mosquito screens or nets.
- Staying indoors as much as possible, especially during early morning and late afternoon.
- Basic precautions should be taken if you are travelling to risk areas.
- There Is No Vaccine Currently Available.