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Chikungunya Virus: Signs and Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Chikungunya is detected worldwide, particularly in Africa, Asia, and India. Chikungunya (pronunciation: chik-en-gun-ye) is a viral infection transmitted by the bite of Aedes mosquito. The regular and common symptoms of chikungunya virus infection are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include chills, nausea, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. In late 2013, chikungunya virus was found for the first time in the Americas on islands of the Caribbean. The risk is that the virus will be transmitted to new areas by infected travelers. There is no vaccine or medicine to prevent or treat chikungunya virus infection. The Travelers or passengers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.

Symptoms of Chikungunya

1. Most people infected with chikungunya virus will develop some common symptoms.

2. Symptoms usually start from 3–7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

3. The most typical common symptoms are fever and joint pain.

4. Other symptoms may include chills, nausea, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.

5. Chikungunya disease does not often lead to death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling.

6. Most patients feel better within a week. In some people, joint pain may persist for several months.

7. People at risk for more severe diseased conditions include newborns infected around the time of birth, older adults (≥65 years), and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.

8. Once a person has been infected, he or she should be protected from future infections.

 Treatment

As of now, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat chikungunya virus. Generally, treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms:

1. Getting plenty of rest.

2. Drink ample amount of fluids to prevent dehydration.

3. Take medicine such as Acetaminophen or paracetamol for fever and pain or as directed by your doctor.

4. If you are taking medicine for any other medical condition, talk to your doctor before taking additional medication.

5. The only method to counter the virus is to prevent being stung by mosquitoes, particularly when traveling in areas where the disease is widespread.

6. If you have chikungunya, stay away or prevent mosquito bites for the first week of your illness.

7. During the 1st week of infection, chikungunya virus can be found in the blood and transmitted from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. This infected mosquito again spread the virus to other people.

 

When should one visit a doctor?

A person should visit a doctor as soon as he/she observes the symptoms of Chikungunya when they are starting to show up. The doctor will suggest a series of tests or investigations to check for the presence of Chikungunya virus in the body and further diagnose a proper course of treatment.

Prevention

In order to prevent mosquito bites:-

A person must wear long or full sleeved shirts and pants before going out. If required, apply permethrin, a type of insecticide to repel mosquitoes, apply to skin as a cream or lotion or it can be sprayed on clothing or on mosquito nets to kill the mosquitoes that touch them.

A mosquito repugnant must be applied on the uncovered parts of the skin, preferably one that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol (PMD). These are some of the suggested ointments as they are highly effective and stay for a long time.

One should make sure that the windows and doors are correctly locked. Also, it is recommended that one must use insecticide-treated mosquito nets, not only at night but most essentially during the daytime also as it is the time when the chances of one being stung by an infected mosquito are higher.

Written by MedPlus