In the monsoon season there is increase in the diseases that are mosquito-borne like Dengue and Chickungunya. There is an unprecedented increase in the cases of Chikungunya in Delhi.
So what is chikungunya? It is a viral infection transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito. This is the same mosquito that transmits Dengue and Yellow Fever. The infection usually lasts for 7 to 10 days.
Symptoms of Chikungunya
Usually start 4-8 days after getting bitten and the most common symptoms include: Sudden high-grade fever up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit that can last for 3-4 days.
Joint pains and swelling: Hands, wrists and ankles are most frequently affected. Joint pains can be very severe and disabling. They usually last for a few days beginning after the fever starts. Patients can also see swelling in the joints and experience morning stiffness. Headaches- Myalgia or muscle aches - Fatigue
Diagnosis of Chikungunya
Chikungunya can be diagnosed by a simple blood test. ELISA blood test can be used to check Chikungunya antibodies. Virological tests like RT-PCR (Reverse Transcriptase PCR) can be used for earlier detection of virus in the blood - as early as the first 5 days after the onset of symptoms.
Treatment of Chikungunya
There is no specific vaccine or antivirals for this infection. Treatment is directed towards relieving joint pains using analgesics and fluids. The symptoms are often difficult to differentiate from Dengue, hence it is important to not take any Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs like aspirin, diclofenac and ibuprofen till Dengue is ruled out as these medicines can cause platelets to fall in Dengue infection.
What Precautions to be taken
These mosquitoes use indoor sites likes flower vases and water storage vessels for breeding, and it is important to keep these areas clean. The Aedes albopictus mosquito also breeds in outdoor areas like coconut husks, water in pots and coolers.
The mosquito is active in the daytime, usually more in the early mornings and late evenings so it is important to wear long-sleeved clothes or use mosquito coils or repellents.
Do not self-medicate and please consult your doctor is you have fever, joint pains or any signs you have Chikungunya.