The Basics of Chikungunya
Chikungunya was first discovered in 1952, in East Africa. It’s a viral infection that’s transmitted through mosquito bites. Although it was detected in Africa, there are also cases in Europe, Asia, and on the islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Recently, there are reported cases in America and not because the infected individual went away on a holiday on isolated places. In fact, laboratories have confirmed Chikungunya virus in Central America, Carribean, North America, and South America.
Chikungunyan is mainly transmitted when bitten by albopictus and aedes aegypti mosquitoes carrying the virus. Once a person is infected, the virus can multiply inside the body and be carried by other uninfected mosquitoes when they bite an infected person.
The virus is not contagious when it comes to direct human interaction and as mentioned before, needs to be passed through a mosquito bite first. However, an outbreak can occur when there is an increase in the number of mosquitoes and humans infected with Chikungunya. There have been no reports of the virus being transmitted to a newborn by the mother, but it is possible that it can be transferred through blood transfusions.
People who are infected with the Chikungunya virus usually show the symptoms within three to seven days after being bitten by a mosquito infected with the virus. Some of the common virus among the Chikungunya patients are joint pain, fever, muscle pain, headache, and rashes. These symptoms are similar to those shown by dengue fever, which is also spread by infected mosquitoes. While there are patients who feel relief after, there are also some individuals who suffer from prolonged joint pains, some even lasting for months.
There are cases where complications like inflammation of some organs like the liver, heart, skin, and brain, occurs. Elderly people who are more than 65 years old, especially those who are already suffering from other medical problems, are more prone to complications and severe chikungunya infection.
Diagnosis of chikungunya is done through blood antibody tests so doctors may be able to distinguish the infection from dengue fever, and other viral diseases that are similar in symptoms. However, there are no known vaccines or medicine available for the treatment and prevention of the Chikungunya virus infection.
Some of the treatments recommended to relive the symptoms are by drinking lots of fluids, resting, and taking medicines that can help reduce the pain and fever. It’s worth noting however, that once a person is infected by Chikungunya, chances are that he or she will develop an immunity to the virus.
While there are no vaccines available for chikungunya virus, the best prevention that can anybody can do is by avoiding getting bitten by mosquitoes. You can do this by eliminating areas where mosquitoes can possibly breed such as areas with stagnant and dirty water. If it’s not too hot outside, you can also wear protective pieces of clothing like long pants and long – sleeved shirts. Or if you want, you can use also use insect repellents.