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Chikungunya, a Re-emerging Viral Fever

Published on Jul 27, 2016 and last reviewed on Apr 28, 2022   -  6 min read


This article explains about chikungunya and how to protect ourselves from being infected with this disease.

Chikungunya, a Re-emerging Viral Fever

There are many diseases that occur due to mosquito bite. Malaria, elephantiasis, Nile virus, chikungunya and dengue fever are the most common. These are known as mosquito-borne diseases.

Chikungunya is caused by chikungunya virus. This infection lasts for 2 to 12 days. But, the pain may last for a few months to years. It may be associated with extremity pains such as in joints of the lower limb and upper limb. It is transmitted from the infected human through Aedes mosquito bites. The saliva of this mosquito contains infected virus, which gets into the blood of healthy individual when it bites. Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are the most common ones responsible for chikungunya disease. This is not a fatal disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Chikungunya

In initial stage, symptoms like low grade fever, malaise, reduction in feelings of hunger and occasional vomiting will be present. After five to seven days patient becomes symptomatic profoundly. Joint ache starts after the initial onset of the infection. It starts with mild difficulties in movement and pain during early morning. As the day starts pain goes off and it is also relieved by some daily activities. These are the symptoms seen in the initial stage of chikungunya fever.

How to Diagnose Chikungunya?

It is best diagnosed with a special blood test known as ELISA blood test (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). In the blood test, IgM antibodies are found which lasts for up to six months to one year in blood. Antibodies are produced by our body to engulf or destroy the foreign particles, viruses and toxins. These antibodies are made by some protein compounds and help to provide immunity. This immunity is known as acquired immunity.

Serum test is also positive in first few days after infection. Chikungunya viruses are found in the serum in the first two weeks. Identification of virus is very essential to confirm the diagnosis. Some specific tests are also available to diagnose virus nucleic acid in the serum. But, it comes positive only in the first five days of infection.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is also providing some criteria to confirm the diagnosis. They are as follows:

  1. Presence of fever above 38.5 degree Celsius and presence of severe joint or muscle pain without any other medical or orthopedic conditions.
  2. The person who visited the epidemic area before 15 days of infection and positive laboratory tests, which are described as above.

Treatments Guidelines for Chikungunya

There are many medications and remedies available to treat the pain caused by chikungunya fever. But, there is no specific medication responsible for the cure of chikungunya infection.

1) Hot Water Fomentation:

For pain relief, hot water bag approximately of 35 degree Celsius should be put on the affected area. If a person cannot tolerate this temperature or if chance of burn, he can put some thick cloth between the body and the bag. A person should take hot water fomentation for 30 minutes thrice a day for one month. It works by increasing the blood circulation in the local area as well as relieving the spasm of the muscles. It gives relaxing effect to tensed muscles. It improves the circulation to washout the waste products such as substance p (neurotransmitters responsible for pain) and increases the healing process by providing nutrients to the affected site. It also will help to relieve pain and inflammation.

2) Massage:

Sometimes massage with deep pressure on the joints with pain reliever gel is effective. As it contains Diclofenac gel, linseed oil, camphor, etc., it will relieve pain. It can be used many times in a day.

3) Cold pack:

Apply cold packs over affected joint two times in a day for a minimum of 20 minutes to get the beneficial effects. It will cause Lewis's hunting reaction. It means vasodilatation, dilatation of the blood vessels, followed by vasoconstriction that is narrowing of the blood vessels. It will increase the nutritional supply and remove other toxin stuffs from joints. It helps to get relief from inflammation and pain.

4) Painkillers:

If a patient is suffering from intense pain, then he or she may use oral painkillers. The patient should use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) for treating this condition. It works by blocking pain sensation at the brain level and also has anti-inflammatory property.

Preventive Measures Against Chikungunya fever

There are many ways to prevent the occurrence of chikungunya. But, there is no vaccination found against this disease. It is best prevented by killing mosquitoes or avoiding mosquito bites. Mosquitoes that spread the chikungunya virus bite only during day time.

Avoid contact with persons who are already infected and having symptoms such as fever and chronic joint pain. There are high chances of spreading from an infected person to a healthy person through mosquito bites. So, keep distance from an infected person for a few days. We should keep ourselves away from mosquitoes such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. The most visible characteristic of these mosquitoes is the presence of white strips on their body parts as well as in the legs. Avoid spending time in the gardens, near the water tank, near bounded water, pavilions and brushwood, where these mosquito will be more.

Last reviewed at:
28 Apr 2022  -  6 min read




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