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  • CHIKUNGUNYA FEVER

    1. What is Chikungunya?

             Chikungunya (chik√≠-en-GUN-yah), also called chikungunya virus disease or chikungunya fever, is a viral illness that is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. In Swahili, chikungunya means that which contorts or bends up. This refers to the contorted (or stooped) posture of patients who are afflicted with the severe joint pain (arthritis) which is the most common feature of the disease.

    2. What is the infectious agent that causes Chikungunya?

            Chikungunya is caused by the chikungunya virus, which is classified in the family Togaviridae, genus Alphavirus.

    3. What are the symptoms of Chikungunya?

            Chikungunya usually starts suddenly with fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, joint pain and rash. Frequently, the infection causes no symptoms, especially in children. While recovery from chikungunya is the expected outcome, convalescence can be prolonged and persistent joint pain may require analgesic (pain medication) and long-term anti-inflammatory therapy. Infection appears to confer lasting immunity.

    4. Will Chikungunya cause death?

            No. Worldwide statistics and WHO reports clearly show that Chikungunya do not cause death.

            There may be deaths due to various other causes during Chikungunya outbreak. These deaths are often reported in the media as due to Chikungunya which is incorrect.

    5. Is there specific treatment for Chikungunya?

            There is no specific treatment but drugs like paracetamol, diclofenac sodium, chloriquine are used to relieve fever, joint pains and swelling. Drugs like asprin and steroids should be avoided.

    6. How is Chikungunya spread?

            Chikungunya is spread by the bite of an Aedes mosquito, primarily Aedes aegypti. Humans are thought to be the major source, or reservoir, of chikungunya virus for mosquitoes. Therefore, the mosquito usually transmits the disease by biting an infected person and then biting someone else. An infected person cannot spread the infection directly to other persons (i.e. it is not a contagious disease). Aedes aegypti mosquitoes bite during the day time

             The Aedes mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya breed in a wide variety of manmade containers which are common around human dwellings. These containers collect water, and include discarded tyres, flowerpots, old oil drums, animal water troughs, water storage vessels, and plastic food containers.

    7. How soon after exposure do symptoms appear?

            The time between the bite of a mosquito carrying chikungunya virus and the start of symptoms ranges from 1 to 12 days.

    8. How is chikungunya diagnosed?

            Chikungunya is diagnosed by blood tests (ELISA). Since the clinical appearance of both chikungunya and dengue are similar, laboratory confirmation is importantespecially in areas where dengue is present. Such facilities are available in 30 Sentinel Surveillance Hospitals in Tamil Nadu (Included in Dengue write up)

    9. Who is at risk for chikungunya?

            Anyone who is bitten by an infected mosquito can get chikungunya.

    10. What is the treatment for chikungunya?

            There is no specific treatment for chikungunya. Supportive therapy that helps ease symptoms, such as administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and getting plenty of rest, may be beneficial. Infected persons should be isolated from mosquitoes in as much as possible in order to avoid transmission of infection to other people.

    11. How can chikungunya be prevented?

            There is neither chikungunya virus vaccine nor drugs are available to cure the infection. Prevention, therefore, centers on avoiding mosquito bites. Eliminating mosquito breeding sites is another key prevention measure. To prevent mosquito bites, do the following:

    • Use mosquito repellents on skin and clothing
    • When indoors, stay in well-screened areas. Use bed nets if sleeping in areas that are not screened or air-conditioned.
    • When working outdoors during day times, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to avoid mosquito bite.

    12. When did Chikungunya epidemic outbreak occur in the past?

            In India a major epidemic of Chikungunya fever was reported during the last millennium viz.; 1963 (Kolkata), 1965 (Pondicherry and Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Rajahmundry, Vishakapatnam and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh; Sagar in Madhya Pradesh; and Nagpur in Maharashtra).


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