Chikungunya

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Introduction

Chikungunya is a viral disease caused by the bite of infected Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes. Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a member of the genus Alphavirus, in the family Togaviridae.

It was first isolated from the blood of a febrile patient in Tanzania in 1953, and has since been identified repeatedly in west, central and southern Africa and many areas of Asia.

Incubation period varies from 2-12 days, but is usually 3-7 days.

Symptoms

Arthralgia (joint pain)

Swelling of joints

Stiffness of joints

Myalgia (muscular pain),

Headache

Fatigue (weakness),

Nausea, vomiting and rash and fever.

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Acute chikungunya fever typically lasts a few days to a couple of weeks, but some patients have prolonged fatigue lasting several weeks. Additionally, some patients have reported incapacitating joint pain, or arthritis which may last for weeks or months.

CHIKV infection (whether clinical or silent) is thought to confer life-long immunity.

Treatment of Chikungunya

There is no specific antiviral drug or medicine for Chikungunya. Treatment aims to manage the symptoms and include taking sufficient rest, taking more fluid food and medicines to relieve pain and fever ( for example Paracetamol ). Aspirin should be avoided.

Prevention of Chikungunya

  • Use mosquito repellent on exposed skin.
  • Wear long sleeves shirts and pants.
  • Have secure screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out.
  • Additionally, a person with chikungunya fever should limit their exposure to mosquito bites in order to avoid further spreading the infection. The person should stay indoors or under a mosquito net.

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