Chikungunya is a disease that is now commonly affecting humans around the world. The virus causing the disease (CHIKV) triggers symptoms similar to dengue fever. It mostly affects humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The condition causes a high fever and immense joint pain. The condition causes no fatal complications. But, it can trigger severe, debilitating, and long-lasting symptoms. Scientists considered the disease of the tropics. But, the different cases documented in several different countries on earth have now broken the belief. While the disease is not contagious. So, it does not spread from one person to another. But, it can spread when a female mosquito bites an infected person and then bites a normal person. In rare cases, the virus can transmit through an infected person’s blood. Read ahead to know more about the disease and how you can handle it.
History Of Chikungunya
Chikungunya was first detected in the year 1952 following an outbreak on the African Makonde Plateau. The place lies in the border area between Tanzania and Mozambique. Scientists have successfully isolated the CHIKV from the serum of a patient residing in the region. The disease name comes from the Makonde language (it is the language spoken by the ethnic group of north Mozambique and southeast Tanzania). It means “that which bends up/contorted”. So, it indicates the symptoms of an infected person who has a stooped posture due to the arthritic signs of the viral infection. The term also means “illness of the bent walker” in Swahili. The disease triggers severe joint pain, making the patient look stooped.
About Chikungunya Virus
The virus causing the fever and pain likely originated in Central or /east Africa. Scientists have found evidence of CHIKV to circulate in wild mosquitoes and non-human primates. In these regions, rare cases of human cases occur. But, it is not large enough. But, in African urban centers and throughout Asia, the virus circulates between human hosts and mosquitoes, resulting in a cycle, which is like the dengue virus cycle. CHIKV is a member of the Togaviridae family and it is an RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus. After the outbreak in 1952, several scientific papers described the disease in detail. The wealth of scientific paper covering the new condition offered new insight into the disease.
The outbreak occurred in several countries at regular intervals of two to twenty years. But, it garnered attention again in 2005 with a fresh outbreak around the Indian Ocean islands. More than 2, 72,000 suffered from the outbreak in Mauritius and Reunion. Initially, scientists considered viral fever as a tropical disease due to its occurrence in African and Asian countries. But, the 2007 outbreak of the disease in European countries (Italy, France, and Croatia), and the Caribbean Islands has urged the WHO to declare CHIKVas a Class C pathogen. Today, more than sixty countries have identified people suffering from the disease.
Symptoms Of Chikungunya
The chikungunya virus (CHIKV) can cause fever that lasts for several days. The main sign of the disease is joint pain. It can last for several weeks or months. Some patient complains of joint pain after getting relief from the viral infection. The symptoms of the condition mimic signs of other diseases like dengue fever. In normal cases, the symptoms appear just a few days after the mosquito bites a person. The common signs associated with the condition are:
- High Fever (as high as 104 degrees F)
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Swelling around the joints
Less Common Signs
In some rare cases, people can experience other signs. The less common signs associated with the viral fever are:
If you see such signs, then see a doctor. It is to detect the problem and get the necessary assistance to manage the condition.
Transmission Of Chikungunya
Chikungunya has affected people in more than sixty countries in the American, European, African, and Asian continents. So, how does the virus transmit? The CHIKV commonly transmits through mosquito bites. Two species of mosquitoes transmit the virus into humans.
- Aedes Albopictus
- Aedes Aegypti
These two species are also the culprits behind the transmission of other mosquito-borne viruses like dengue. The two species of mosquitos can bite humans through the day until the daylight fades. But, early mornings and late afternoons are the peaks of mosquito activity. While both species tend to bite people when they go outdoors, Ae. Aegypti can also bite you when you stay indoors. Once the infected mosquito bites, you can see the signs related to the illness between four to eight days. But some people show signs from two to twelve days.
Diagnosing the disease is the main step necessary to get treatment for infected patients. It is because many of the symptoms triggered by the disease mimic other mosquito-borne infectious diseases (For example, dengue fever). The treatment approach for the different mosquito-borne diseases vary. So, your doctor has to evaluate your condition to determine the exact condition causing your symptoms. It is also necessary to detect if you have contracted the specific infectious disease prior. Based on the assessment, your doctor can suggest an ideal treatment plan. The diagnostic tests used to detect the problem includes:
The doctor performs a physical assessment by checking the symptoms you are experiencing. During the test, you also need to inform the following:
- When and where you suffered mosquito bite
- Your travel to a foreign location
- The medications you take for any diseases
Based on the data collected, your doctor can detect your risk of developing chikungunya. Your doctor also performs a differential diagnosis to eliminate the presence of other mosquito-borne infections with similar symptoms.
Physical assessment may not alone detect the presence of the disease conclusively. So, your physician suggests the following blood tests:
It offers a conclusive diagnosis of the virus. But, the test can take two weeks for completion. It is also required to carry out the test in a biosafety level II laboratories. The technique involves exposing the whole blood sample using specific lines. It identifies the CHIKV specific responses.
The CHIKV-specific genes from your blood sample are amplified using nested primer pairs. It generated thousands to a million copies of the genes. Your doctor suggests the test to identify the virus conclusively. The test is also helpful in identifying the viral load in the blood. It involves less time to get the results compared to virus isolation.
You need to provide a larger sample of blood compared to other methods for serological diagnosis. It uses ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays) assay to measure the presence of CHIKV specific IgM levels in the sample blood serum.
How is it beneficial? The vaccines stimulate a response in your body similar to the one generated by your natural immunity when you suffer from viral infection. But, VLPs cannot infect or replicate. It is because the whole virus is not used in the production of the vaccination. So, it is not prepared in high-level biocontainment facilities.
Treatment For Chikungunya
Unfortunately, no specific treatment is available for viral disease. Since no vaccine is available for the condition, your doctor treats the condition symptomatically. So, based on the specific symptoms you exhibit, your doctor suggests treatment options. With no vaccine, the viral disease is spreading in several areas of the world. It is like an epidemic with more and more cases reported every year. But, some cures are available to get rid of the disease. Your doctor suggests supportive therapy to ease the symptoms associated with the condition. The options available are:
Get Relief From Pain And Fever
The viral fever can cause severe pain. So, to reduce fever and pain, your doctor prescribes acetaminophen. It offers you relief from fever as well as joint pain. Your doctor can also prescribe ibuprofen and naproxen to relieve joint pain. You must not rely on nonsteroidal drugs or aspirin as they may not offer effective results.
Patients infected by CHIKV can experience severe pain after moving aggressively. So, physiotherapy can offer relief from pain during such cases. Considering mild exercises suggested by the doctor during the initial stages of the disease can offer long-term relief.
Patients suffering from viral fever need to drink a lot of fluids. It is to prevent dehydration and associated complication. You need to drink water or juices throughout the day to flush out infections. Drinking water is also good for relieving joint pain. It gives a fresh and good feeling to the patient.
Get Plenty Of Rest
Chikungunya patients need plenty of rest. Doctors suggest complete bed rest for at least 7 days for getting relief. Chikungunya patients need to relax and rest even after the body has come to its normal temperature.
Talk To Doctor About Medication
Since viral fever can mimic dengue, you must avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs or aspirin. It is to reduce the risk of bleeding. If you are taking medication for any other health problem, then talk to your doctor. Your doctor can prescribe medication accordingly.
Avoid Mosquito Bites
If you suffer from chikungunya, then you need to protect yourself from mosquito bites. It is to prevent the spread of disease to others as during the first week, the virus is present in the bloodstream. So, you need to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and their transmission to another person. An infected mosquito increases the risk of spreading the infection.
Home Remedies For Chikungunya
You can take some steps at home to manage the pain and distress. You can follow the simple steps suggested at home to get relief.
Epsom Salt Soak
The viral fever can trigger immense pain in joints. You can try Epsom salt soak to ease pain and get relief. Epsom salt contains inflammation and pain-reducing magnesium sulfate crystals. In addition to it, warm water improves blood circulation in your body. So, you can get pain relief.
Turmeric is a highly effective remedy to ease the pain caused due to viral fever. It contains curcumin. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. So, you can ease the pain caused due to chikungunya.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. It can also relieve pain. So, you can use ginger to combat pain and get relief from the discomfort caused due to viral fever.
The virus affects your liver immediately after infecting your body. Coconut water helps enhance liver health. So, drinking coconut water helps in speedy recovery. It also reduces signs triggered due to viral fever.
Tulsi (Basil Leaves)
Basil leaves can reduce your body temperature. It also contains antioxidants, which help boost your immune system. So, you can recover quickly from viral fever. You have to chew basil leaves at least once or twice a day to see results. If you have trouble chewing it, you can boil few basil leaves in water. Cool and drink the water.
Sunflower Seeds And Honey
You can apply a mixture of sunflower seeds powder and honey on the joints. It can relieve the distress triggered as sunflower seeds contain Vitamin E and zinc. It will strengthen your immune system. While honey has anti-inflammatory properties that will ease your distress.
Complications Of Chikungunya
While the viral fever causes only mild discomfort to people, it some cases, the condition can worsen. Affected people can suffer from the following complications:
It is the condition causes due to inflammation in the layer inside your eye. The inflammation occurs between the inner retina and the fibrous layer outside that consists of cornea and sclera.
The virus can affect the retina and cause inflammation, leading to retinitis.
It is the heart problem caused due to the inflammation of your heart muscle.
The virus first attacks your liver. So, it can cause inflammation of the organ, leading to developing hepatitis.
CHIKV can lead to the inflammation of the kidneys. It can cause malfunctioning of the organ and kidney pain.
While not severe like dengue fever, viral infection can cause bleeding.
CHIKV can lead to the inflammation of the brain membranes as well as the cerebral tissues adjoining it.
The viral infection leads to the inflammation of the spinal cord.
Cranial Nerve Palsies
In some cases, people infected by CHIKV can suffer from loss of function in their cranial nerves.
Since mosquitoes are the main transmitters of the disease, you need to prevent them. Reducing the mosquitoes in your home and property is a simple and effective method to avoid the disease from affecting your life. How can you minimize contact with mosquitoes? Here are some of the steps to prevent the condition:
Remove Standing Water
Mosquitoes breed and reproduce in stagnant water. You can find standing water around your home. Unfortunately, these are the breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Therefore, discard the following from your garden or home:
- Tin cans
- Artificial containers
- Discarded tires
- Clogged rain gutter
- Untended pools
- Plastic wading pools
You need to use a mosquito repellent. Check for the ingredient list as it must contain DEET. Applying it on your skin and clothing can effectively prevent the mosquito bites. DEET has the ability to interfere with the neurons and receptors of the mosquitoes, located on its antennae. It can also prevent the mouth part of the mosquito from detecting carbon dioxide and lactic acid. So, when you apply it correctly, DEET forms a vapor barrier on your skin. It prevents the mosquitoes from landing on your skin surface.
Cover Your Body
You can cover your body with clothing to avoid mosquitoes from sucking your blood. Wear clothing covering your whole body to reduce insect bites. So, opt for a long-sleeved dress and full pants that do not expose your skin.
Mosquitoes are commonly found indoors. So, try to stay indoors as much as possible. It is specifically required during early mornings as well as late afternoon.
Try to avoid travel to areas experiencing outbreaks as you become more susceptible to mosquito bites. If you have to go out, then wear clothes and gear treated with mosquito-repellents like permethrin. Permethrin bonds with the fibers of the fabrics you apply after it dries. So, it offers protection against the insects when you go outdoors.
Use Mosquito Repelling Products
Lemon Eucalyptus (PMD) is an effective remedy to repel mosquitoes away. So, try using the product containing the ingredient. Lemon eucalyptus is a tree. The oil extracted by its lemon has medicinal value. It is effective in treating skin infection. It is also used as an active ingredient in commercial mosquito repellents. Lemon eucalyptus is as effective as products containing DEET.
Use Air Conditioner
Mosquitoes dwell on hot and humid surroundings. So, to avoid mosquitoes maintain a cool temperature inside your home or workplace. It is possible by using an air conditioner. Using an air conditioner can prevent mosquitoes in another way. Mosquitoes sense human presence by the carbon dioxide emitted. A blowing air conditioner reduces the mosquitoes’ detection ability of the scent location.
If you have no air conditioner, then you can use a physical barrier to prevent the mosquito from accessing you. Use a mosquito net over your sleep area. The super-fine mesh netting prevents any tiny insects from entering your space.
Mosquito Coils And Vaporizers
The mosquito coils and vapors can block the mosquitoes from coming inside the room. Once you vapor spreads in the room, you can restrict the mosquitoes.
The viral fever is rarely fatal. So, it does not lead to life-threatening complications. But, the symptoms associated with the disease can stay lifelong. It can cause distress and stop you from completing your daily routine. So, avoiding mosquitoes and their bite is the key.
Chikungunya may not cause fatal complications, but it can make your life uncomfortable. The virus transmitted through mosquito bite can trigger symptoms lasting for a few weeks. You suffer from certain symptoms from weeks to months. While you have no effective vaccination to prevent the problem, you can take steps to prevent mosquito bites. These techniques are useful when you stay in an infection prevalent region. If you get exposed to the virus, then see a doctor for obtaining supportive care. While no treatment is available to alleviate the disease, you can follow options suggested by the doctor to address the symptoms. So, you can reduce the distress and discomfort triggering by the condition.View Article Sources