Patient Awareness

Chickungunya Virus: Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment

Chickungunya virus symptoms
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Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease first explained during an outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952. The name “chikungunya” derives from a word in the Kimakonde language, meaning “to become contorted”, and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain listed under Chickungunya virus symptoms. The disease commonly occurs in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Symptoms

Chikungunya is transferred from human to human by mosquitoes. The females of Aedes Aegyptii and Aedes albopictus are the main species of mosquito that spread the disease. These mosquitoes bite during the day.

aedes

Source

Abrupt onset of fever and severe joint pain are tell-tale Chickungunya virus symptoms. Joint pain can last weeks and may linger up to a year or more in some rare cases. A high fever is one of the first Chickungunya virus symptoms. The fever typically ranges from 102 to 104 degrees °F (40 degrees °C). The fever will usually last for up to a week. There can be other Chickungunya virus symptoms such as muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. The disease does not induce immunity by itself and can recur.

Diagnosis

IgM titers – a way of measuring the rising level of antibodies in the blood, which quantifies the body’s response to an active infection – are what are tested in the blood. More specifically, the blood test that doctors ask for is called the RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) but it may not be accessible, so doctors test the drop in the number of leucocytes in the blood because of the viral infection.

The blood tests are repeated and a constant watch is kept on the blood count. If it drops, it is better to be under medical observation. At this stage, the doctors’ guidance is crucial.

During the first 8 days of illness, chikungunya viral RNA (RT_PCR) can often be identified in serum. Chikungunya virus antibodies (ELISA) normally develop toward the end of the first week of illness. The incubation period is typically 3–7 days (which can range from 1–12 days).  Hence, getting tested for chikungunya during the first week of infection is best to get positive results

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for chikungunya. There are no vaccines currently available. Chikungunya is treated symptomatically, usually with bed rest, fluids, and medicines to ease symptoms of fever and aching such as ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, or paracetamol. Aspirin should be avoided. Infected persons should be protected from further mosquito exposure during the first few days of the illness so they can not contribute to the transmission cycle. Since chikungunya is cured by immune system in almost all cases there is no need to worry.

According to homeopathic experts effective drugs are available to prevent as well as to speed up recovery from chikungunya. Some places in South India believe homeopathic medicine is the right treatment for chikungunya.

To know more about mosquito-borne diseases, read more here- The Zika Virus: A Simplified Guide

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