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Chikungunya – What is it? How is differ from dengue

Chikungunya – What is it? How is differ from dengue

Everything you need to know about Chikungunya

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At the time of this article the number of fatalities due to Chikungunya complications has risen to 15 in the national capital of Delhi – City battling the outbreak of the vector-borne disease. While the political battle or buck passing is on between the AAP ruled Delhi Govt, BJP ruled MCD in general, large number of citizens are continuously reporting sick due to symptoms identified with Dengue and Chikungunya.

First most concern is to create awareness about Chikungunya, therefore the facts in points:

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  • Is a viral disease if infectious and can spread.
  • However in Chikungunya  case, direct human to human transmission is not possible. It spreads through mosquito bite.
  • Mosquito control is the only effective prevention technique
  • Chikungunya is usually nonfatal ie generally doesn’t cause death.
  • Currently there are no vaccines or specific medicines
  • Treatment is mainly symptomatic – such as giving painkillers to relieve the joint pain – using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which are not asprin-based such as Paracetemol.
  • Drugs are mainly analgesics and antipyretics.
  • The patient is advised to take fluids.

History of Chikungunya:

Historically Chikungunya was known as Dengue. It was only after the outbreak of Chikungunya in Makonde Plateau, along the border between Mozambique and Tanganyika (Tanzania) that it was identified as a separate disease. Chikungunya virus was first isolated by RW Ross in 1953.  It has now been identified in 60 countries including those in Asia, Africa, Europe, America and others.

What is the chikungunya virus?

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.

The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.

Is Chikungunya is contagious?

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).

How do you test for chikungunya?

Diagnosis. Several methods can be used for diagnosis. Serological tests, such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), may confirm the presence of IgM and IgG anti-chikungunya antibodies. IgM antibody levels are highest 3 to 5 weeks after the onset of illness and persist for about 2 months.

What is the cure for chikungunya?

There are no specific treatments for chikungunya. There is no vaccine currently available. Chikungunya is treated symptomatically, usually with bed rest, fluids, and medicines to relieve symptoms of fever and aching such as naproxen, acetaminophen or paracetamol.

*Aspirin or Disprin should be avoided.

Chikungunya and Dengue:

Chikungunya can circulate with the help of monkeys, birds and cattle, but dengue spreads only through mosquitoes.

Dengue and Chikungunya are viral diseases with very similar symptoms. Both has patient symptoms such as high fever, headache, eye pain, joint pain, rashes and lethargy. Both viral infections are spread by Aedes mosquito. However identifying the exact disease is critical since Dengue is much more dangerous and may need emergency medical intervention. It is also possible for a patient to have Dengue and Chikungunya at the same time (coinfection). Sometimes Dengue/Chikungunya is also confused with Malaria.

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The most distinguishing feature of Dengue is bleeding.

  • Dengue and Chikungunya diseases are caused by viruses, but they are different viruses.
  • Chikungunya is caused by a Togaviridae alphavirus, while dengue is caused by a Flavirideae flavivirus.
  • Dengue is much more common and more fatal than Chikungunya.
  • Chikungunya joint pain may last for years causing long term quality of life issues.

The following table lists the differences between Dengue and Chikungunya:

Type Chikungunya Dengue
Duration of disease Incubation period of 1 to 12 days and disease duration varies from one to two weeks. However symptoms such as joint pain may persist for a long time. Incubation period of 3 to 7 days and disease duration varies from 4 to 7 weeks.
Initial Symptoms Fever, joint pain, muscle pain, headache, eye infection, rashes Fever, joint pain, headache, rashes
Joint pain and muscle pain Joint pains on hands and feet. Swelling is present and the pain is high in the morning. Muscle pain on the back, arms and legs. Joint pain on knees and shoulders.
Skin rashes Rashes on trunk, limbs, face, palms and feet. Rashes usually limited to face and limbs.
Possible complications Upto 10% of patients develop chronic joint pain. Neurological damage is possible, but rare. Life threatening complications such as shock, breathing difficulty and heavy bleeding can occur.

Treatment for Chikungunya:

  • No vaccine for chikungunya.
  • Treatment is mainly symptomatic – such as giving painkillers to relieve the joint pain – using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which are not asprin-based.
  • Drugs are mainly analgesics and antipyretics.
  • The patient is advised to take fluids.

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Preventive Methods for Chikungunya:

  • Avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.
  • Keep the surroundings clear of stagnant water or pools where mosquitoes can breed.
  • Use mosquito nets and close windows in the evening to prevent mosquitoes from entering.

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