How common is chikungunya virus and its symptoms?
Humans become infected with the chikungunya virus through mosquito bites. Fever and joint ache are two symptoms. Although it is rarely fatal, the symptoms can be very bad, very persistent, and very crippling.
More than a fifth of the world’s countries now have cases of what was formerly thought to be a tropical disease. This page will describe the chikungunya virus, including its causes, symptoms, treatments, diagnosis, and prevention measures.
The bite of a female mosquito carrying the chikungunya virus is the main method of transmission. It is generally not thought to be communicable, but in a few rare instances, the virus can be spread by coming into contact with someone who has the infection through their blood.
How is it spread and found?
Chikungunya, which was formerly restricted to Africa and Asia, has rapidly spread since 2004. Today, more than one-third of the world’s population resides in areas at risk for infection. The Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean islands, as well as those in the Indian and Pacific oceans, are among these locations.
When a mosquito bites a person, the mosquito bites carry the chikungunya virus. Chikungunya cannot be contracted from another person. However, when a mosquito bites a person who is infected, the virus is spread. To prevent the virus from infecting others, refrain from acquiring further mosquito bites if you have the infection. Avoid travelling as well.
Symptoms of chickungunya
A fever is usually the initial symptom of chikungunya, followed by a rash. Typically, 4 to 8 days after a mosquito bite, an infected person becomes unwell (but the range can be 2 to 12 days).
These signs include:
- abrupt onset of a fever (typically above 102 degrees F)
- Joint aches
- rash with maculopapules (characterized by a flat red area on the skin covered with elevated bumps)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 to 28% of chikungunya infections are asymptomatic even though the majority of those who contract the virus exhibit symptoms.
Causes and Risk Factors of Chikungunya
A virus called chikungunya is spread to people by infected mosquitoes. The virus that causes chikungunya (CHIKV) is to blame.
The virus cannot be passed on directly from one sick individual to another. When a mosquito feeds on a person who has the virus circulating in their blood, the sickness is transmitted. Through its bite, the mosquito can acquire the virus and pass it on to another person.
No infants have been discovered to have acquired the chikungunya virus through breastfeeding, according to the CDC. Mosquitoes carrying the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus species are the primary vectors of the chikungunya virus. The mosquitoes that spread the dengue virus are the same ones.
Urban mosquito A. aegypti has been predominantly linked to CHIKV epidemics in Africa and Asia. However, A. albopictus has been introduced as a second important CHIKV spreader since an incident on Réunion in 2005.
A. albopictus has a larger geographic range and can endure in moderate areas. Contrary to A. aegypti, which primarily inhabits tropical and subtropical regions, A key risk factor for chikungunya is the presence of mosquito breeding grounds close to places where people live.
Complications of chikungunya
Possible complications include:
- Uveitis is an inflammation of the part of the eye’s ocular structure that is between the inner retina and the outer fibrous layer, which is made up of the sclera and cornea.
- Retinal inflammation is known as retinal retinitis.
- Heart muscle inflammation is known as myocarditis.
- Hepatitis is liver inflammation.
- Kidney inflammation is known as nephritis.
- Hemorrhage means to bleed.
- Meningoencephalitis is an inflammation of the brain and surrounding cerebral tissue membranes.
- Spinal cord inflammation is known as myelitis.
- Muscle weakness is a hallmark of the rare peripheral nervous system disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome.
- Loss of function in the cranial nerves is known as cranial nerve palsies.
Diagnosis of chikungunya
Since symptoms of chikungunya are frequently difficult to distinguish from those of other illnesses, only a blood test can provide a conclusive diagnosis.
Dengue fever has a greater fatality rate than chikungunya, which is 0.1 percent, and must be ruled out as soon as possible because to its higher mortality rate of up to 50% if left untreated.
A person with the aforementioned symptoms should see a doctor as soon as feasible if they have recently been to a region where either of these diseases is prevalent.
Treatment of chikungunya
Although the virus is rarely lethal, its symptoms can be very bad and incapacitating. The majority of people get over their fever in a week, but joint pain might last for months. 20% of patients still experience persistent joint discomfort one year afterwards.
Chikungunya is not specifically treatable with medication; instead, doctors advise rest and drinking lots of fluids.
Fever and joint pain can be reduced with over-the-counter drugs. These consist of:
- Physiotherapy may be beneficial for aches that remain longer.
Vaccination for chikungunya
Although there is currently no vaccination or antiviral medication available, the illness is often transient and seldom lethal. The goal of medication is to treat the symptoms rather than the underlying problem. Currently, a phase 2 clinical trial of a chikungunya vaccine is being funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As opposed to inactivated or weakened viruses, the vaccine uses so-called virus-like particles (VLPs).
The immunological responses induced by VLP-based vaccinations can resemble those produced by naturally acquired immunity after viral infection. VLPs can’t reproduce themselves and are not contagious. VLP vaccines do not require the use of entire viruses, hence high-level biocontainment facilities are not required for their preparation.
Prevention of Chikungunya
Since mosquito bites are the primary way of chikungunya transmission, avoiding mosquito contact is one of the greatest preventative measures. The following actions can be followed to stave off chikungunya:
- using DEET (N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) or picaridin-containing insect repellent to skin and clothing.
- covering one’s entire body with garments.
- attempting to spend as much time indoors as you can, particularly in the morning and evening.
- avoiding trips to places where epidemics are happening.
- It may be useful to use products that contain PMD (p-Menthane-3,8-diol) or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- using air conditioning to keep rooms cool prevents mosquitoes from entering.
- sleeping with a mosquito net over you.
- utilising pesticide vaporizers and mosquito coils.
Although chikungunya seldom results in death, the symptoms can be debilitating and last for a long time. The secret is avoiding mosquitoes.
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