Chikungunya is a mosquito borne disease that occurs in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
It has come into prominence from around 2005 and is currently a major concern in the Indian subcontinent. It came into a huge publicity a few years ago when the island of Reunion had almost 70% of its population infected.
The name ‘chikungunya’ is derives from Kimakonde language, meaning “to stoop” and describes the stooped appearance of the sufferers due to severe joint pain.
The common mosquitoes involved are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which can also transmit other mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue. These mosquitoes can be found biting throughout daylight hours, although there may be peaks of activity in the early morning and late afternoon. Both species are found biting outdoors, but Ae. aegypti will also readily feed indoors.
Symptoms begin between 4 – 7 days after getting bitten by an infected mosquito and present with the following common symptoms:
- Fever up to 40C°(104 F°)
- A rash of the trunk
- Joint Pains or arthritis affecting multiple joints especially previously injured ones and the joints may swell, but without significant fluid accumulation. These symptoms may last from 1 week to several months
- Intense headache, insomnia
- Children occasionally present with seizures or convulsions
Chikungunya has symptoms similar to dengue, with both diseases spread by mosquitoes. Prolonged joint pain and fatigue associated with chikungunya fever are not typical of dengue.
As it is a viral disease, there is no specific medication or vaccines to prevent the disease so one has to take all the precautions to prevent from mosquito bites.
- The most effective means of prevention are protection against contact with the disease(virus) carrying mosquitoes and mosquito control
- Wearing bite-proof long sleeves and trousers (pants) also offers protection
- Use insect repellents mainly containing DEET
- Securing screens on windows and doors will help to keep mosquitoes out of the house