Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya fever is an acute febrile illness caused by a virus. Originally from Africa, now it is widespread in India and Asia. It is spread by a bite from a mosquito. Multiple species of Aedes can spread the virus. In some countries, the virus can also be transmitted to primates and other animals. Aedes egypti transmission is usually from a man to man or woman.

The virus multiplies in the mosquito and then goes to mosquito’s salivary gland. Multiplication is faster in summer months in mosquitoes. After a gap of 2-5 days (called incubation period) patient develops fever and pain in multiple joints.

Sometimes more than 5 or 6 joints, usually hands, ankles knees etc are involved. Joint swelling is common. Due to the pain patients often walk with a stoop or bending up (In Tanzania Chikungunya means bending up)

A rash over trunk which may be pinkish or bright may occur over limbs, chest or abdomen. This rash fades on pressure.

Loose motions or vomitings may be seen.

Pain and fever subsides in 3-5 days. In some cases joint pains may persist for 3-6 months.

It was earlier believed that complications and fatalitiesdo do not occur due to chikungunya. However, now both have been reported but are rare.

Involvement of heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and brain may occur.

The disease is diagnosed by looking for antibodies in the blood against this virus.

Treatment is directed towards relief of fever and joint pains.

The disease can be prevented by taking prevention against mosquito breeding and bites.