Chikungunya pronounced (Chik-un-gun-yuh), is an arbovirus and is transmitted by an arthropod host, essentially the Aedes Aegypti and the Aedes Albopictus mosquitoes.
Being a mosquito borne viral disease,chikungunya spreads by the human-mosquito-human transmission having symptoms and epidemic cycles that mimic those of dengue and yellow fever. An individual can get the disease only by sustaining a bite from an infected mosquito. The fever can occur in phases and is not contagious. The virus is self-limiting with a very low fatality rate.
Chikungunya is a tropical disease and the first epidemic was detected in southern Tanzania in the year 1952. It was earlier considered as only a tropical disease found mainly in Africa, Asia and India, until 2007, when outbreaks were seen in Croatia, the Caribbean islands, France, Canada, Mexico and Italy.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), cases of chikungunya have been seen in over 60 countries worldwide with Argentina being the latest. As of March 2016, about 31000 cases have already been reported. Yet there is a decreasing trend in the occurrence of the disease world over.
Chikungunya was first reported in Yangon, Myanmar in 2009. Since then, Myanmar has seen a rise in the number of cases mostly in the Ayeyarwady region, Yangon, Rakhine and Shan States. The occurrence is mostly in the early monsoon seasons when the climate is conducive for mosquito breeding.
After sustaining a bite from an infected mosquito, a person will start showing symptoms of chikungunya in about 3 to 7 days, with a total incubation period ranging between one to twelve days. The most common symptoms of Chikungunya are sudden fever as high as 104 degree Fahrenheit, severe joint pain and stiffness, muscle ache, rash, fatigue, headaches, nausea and vomiting.
Chikungunya is known to cause complication in elderly patients; however, fatalities are extremely rare.
When should I see a doctor?
As such, it is difficult to diagnose chikungunya, as its symptoms are very similar to those other vector-borne diseases like dengue fever and yellow fever. There is no special test to conclusively determine chikungunya, however, identification of the virus after isolating the virus is the most definitive method known, however it is time consuming. You should visit a doctor if
- If you develop a sudden fever with severe pain in the joints of the arms and legs, like the wrists, ankle, shoulders, elbows or knees.
- If you develop the fever after visiting a region that has had an outbreak of the disease
- If you notice the symptoms after visiting a region known for chikungunya concentration.
There is no known cure or vaccination for chikungunya, yet. All treatments are aimed at curing the symptoms for chikungunya and providing relief from the same. Doctors usually prescribe increasing intake of fluids, oral anti-pyretic, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs NSAID’s and analgesics are recommended for the pain of joints. All treatment is symptomatic and supportive care is provided for chikungunya patients.
Early detection and proper care can, along with correct medication can help faster recovery. Since the chikungunya virus is self-limiting and runs its course, mortality rates of chikungunya are as rare as lesser than one in a thousand. However, individuals who are over the age of 65 and infants with low immunity face complications. Babies can contract chikungunya from the pregnant mother during delivery.
Chikungunya is best prevented by preventing the breeding and spread of mosquitoes. If you are visiting areas that are known for chikungunya outbreaks, wear long sleeves, use protective mosquito repellents containing DEET, and avoid dark damp place. You should also avoid going out in the dark, and avoid making travel plans to areas that are known for chikungunya outbreaks.
Follow quarantine procedures.