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Chikungunya Virus: Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

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 Chikungunya virus symptoms. The disease is very common in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Symptoms

Chickungunya virus 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 spreads this disease. These mosquitoes bite during the day.

aedes

Source

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

Diagnosis

IgM titers – is a way of measuring the rising level of antibodies in the blood, which quantifies the body’s response to an active infection – is what is 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 this 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 develops towards 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. Please do not self medicate. Visit the nearest hospital immediately if you experience any of the symptoms. Infected people should be protected from further mosquito exposure during the first few days of the illness so that they may not contribute to the transmission cycle. Since chikungunya is cured by the immune system in almost all cases so there is no need to worry.

According to homoeopathic experts, effective drugs are available to prevent as well as to speed up recovery from chikungunya. Some places in South India believe homoeopathic medicine is the right treatment for chikungunya, however, such illnesses must not be self-medicated.    

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

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

Links and product recommendations in the information provided here are advertisements of third-party products available on the website. PharmEasy does not make any representation on the accuracy or suitability of such products/services. Advertisements do not influence the editorial decisions or content. The information in this blog is subject to change without notice. The authors and administrators reserve the right to modify, add, or remove content without notification. It is your responsibility to review this disclaimer regularly for any changes.

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