Its tongue-twisting name(pronounced “chik-en-gun-ye”) might be fun to say, but its symptoms are definitely not fun to have. Read more about this incapacitating disease below and learn how you can best protect your self from getting it.
What is chikungunya?
Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease that is commonly found in Africa, Southeast Asia, and India. There have also been cases reported in America and Europe as well.
How is it transmitted?
The disease is transmitted from an infected person to a healthy person through the bite of the Aedes mosquito, the very same mosquito that spreads dengue.
What are the symptoms of chikungunya?
Although chikungunya is rarely fatal, its symptoms can be quite debilitating. High fever, severe joint pain, joint swelling, rashes and headaches are common symptoms of chikungunya. An infected person will experience these symptoms 2 – 12 days after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. Most of the symptoms are self-limiting and will usually disappear after a week. However, joint pains can persist for up to a few months.
Is there treatment available for chikungunya?
There is no specific treatment for the chikungunya virus. Current treatments aim at symptomatic relief. Paracetamol, ibuprofen or naproxen can all be used to relieve joint pains, fevers or headaches. Adequate water intake and sufficient rest are encouraged to hasten the recovery process.
What are the preventive measures?
As no vaccine to prevent chikungunya currently exists, the best preventive measure is mosquito avoidance. People living in mosquito-infested areas should wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants in addition to using mosquito repellents whenever necessary.
It is also recommended to get rid of any stagnant water to keep mosquitoes from breeding and use bed-nets whenever possible to reduce the risk of acquiring the infection.