Chikungunya is a disease that is caused by the chikungunya virus or CHIKV. The infection can cause fever and severe joint pain. The symptoms begin to occur in 2 to 12 days after the exposure to the infection. The symptoms subside in a week but, in many cases, the joint pain can takea long to subside which can be months at times. Very young and elderlypatients or patients with other health issues can suffer a more serious form of this disease.
Chikungunya virus is the cause of the occurrence of chikungunya infection. The virus is spread by two kinds of mosquitoes namely, Aedes aegypti, as well as Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes generally bite during daytime. Not just humans, the infection may circulate among animals like rodents and birds.
Once gaining an entry into the body of humans, the virus begins to multiply. When an uninfected mosquito bites the person with the chikungunya virus, the mosquito gets infected.
Chikungunya infection is not considered to be a contagious infection as there is absolutely no person to person transfer of the virus. An infected person can never directly transfer the infection to other humans. To infect an individual, the virus needs to pass through the mosquito first. Hence, outbreaks of chikungunya infection occur during the monsoon weather.
The infection is generally not transmitted from a mother to her baby. There have been some rare incidences of transmission of the infection by blood transfusions from a person infected with chikungunya virus.
The first ever infection caused by the chikungunya virus was reported in East Africa in the year 1952.
Chikungunya is prevalent is around 60 countries covering Asia, Africa, Europe, and North and South America, but rarely any cases are reported in the United States of America.
In the United States of America, only 175 chikungunya cases have been registered since the year 2016 and most people who were affected were those who had visited the affected areas.
The infection is relatively common in Asia and Africa. Since the year 2000, there had been the reports of the chikungunya outbreak in North and South America, as well as Europe.
The symptoms of chikungunya develop within three to seven days of the mosquito bite. The symptoms of chikungunya are:
In most patients the symptoms subside in around seven days. But in many cases, the joint pain lasts for a period of months.
As the symptoms are like dengue fever, many times, the doctors confuse the symptoms of chikungunya infection as dengue or zika fever. This is because of the involvement of the same mosquito in spreading both the infections. After suffering from the infection once, the person develops a life-long immunity against the disease.
Though rare, chikungunya infection can lead to certain complications. The complications of the infection are:
Death due to the infection is rare.
The diagnosis of the infection is primarily done based on blood tests. The doctors advise the patients to undergo blood antibody tests to confirm the diagnosis.
As the symptoms of chikungunya are like those of dengue fever, it is necessary to carry out the blood antibody test to distinguish between chikungunya infection and dengue fever.
There is no vaccine or medicine that could specifically target the chikungunya virus and treat the chikungunya infection. The doctors prescribe medications to relieve the symptoms.
Generally, the patients begin to feel better and recover on their own during time.Most symptoms improve in a week. The only symptom that takes long to subside is muscular and joint pain whichcan take months to go.
The treatment of chikungunya involves:
Chikungunya can be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites. Here are some effective measures to avoid mosquito bites.
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