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All About Chickungunya

By Super Admin

'Chickungunya'- The wildly pronounced disease of the current times. A chill of fear and alarm passes through one by the very mention of the disease. The disease is playing havoc on the public health causing unutterable suffering in the form of high fever and acute joint pain though it is not considered fatal.

Chickungunya is considered to be a rare form of viral fever caused by a Alphavirus belonging to the Group IV Togaviridae family (Tiger mosquitoes) of virus. The disease is transmitted to the humans through the virus affected Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The disease is said to have first found its expression in Tanzania, in the east coast of Africa in 1952 and also in Portklang in Malaysia in 1999. The word is said to have found its derivation from the Makonde(a group or a sect in Tanzania and Mozambique) word meaning' that which bends' owing to the arthritis symptom of the disease. It is a human- mosquito-human transmission.

Warm and humid climate and water reservoirs serve as breeding ground for chickungunya.

From the beginning of 2006, the areas around the Indian Ocean underwent the outbreak of chickungunya. By the first week of March as many as 1,57,000 people were affected in the French island La Reunion and the disease has spread its wings to Seychelles, Mauritius, Mayotte (French) and has further traveled up to India, China and the European countries.

Symptoms
The phenomenal symptoms of the disease include a sudden onset of chill, high body temperature that rises up to 102-103 degrees, Petechial(red or purple spots on the body) or Maculopapular rash(red spots or bumps) and Artharalgia meaning pain in the joints, Photophobia( sensitivity to sunlight or any light) and severe headache. The fever normally comes down in about a week's time but however the prevalence of the other symptoms like insomnia, headache and particularly the joint pains are said to prolong for weeks. In older victims the joint pains are said to torture for even a couple of months. It may also rarely cause Hemorrhagic fever especially in children. The epidemic cycle resembles that of Dengue and yellow fever.

Other dermatological symptoms of chickungunya in the southern and western parts of India include maculopapular ras, nasal blotchy erythema, flagellete, hyper pigmentation, multiple ecchymotic spots, lesions, utricaria etc.

Fetal contamination of chickungunya is uncommon before 22 weeks of gestation, but after 22 weeks the fetes can be affected if the mother is tested positive for viremia.

Treatment
There is no specific treatment for Chikungunya but however 'Chloroquine' a drug used in treating malaria and also in arthritis problems is said to be of a promising cure to Chikungunya. The research by Italian scientist Andrea Savarino and his colleagues emphasizes on the fact that Chloroquine can be an effective cure in treating Chickungunya. A right amount of vitamins and antibiotics can help quicker recovery.

Analgesic and anticonvulsants are advocated in the treatment.

Preventive measures
Cleanliness has to be advocated. A clean environment keeps the mosquitoes at bay. It is very essential to keep oneself safe from mosquito bites. Using mosquito repellents containing Deet or Permethrin can prove an effective cover from getting targetted by the mosquitoes. Both are chemicals used in keeping mosquitoes and ticks away. They are insect repellents that can be used on the clothes. They play an active role in blinding the senses of the insects to keep away from getting victimized. They can also be used on mosquito nets. They are effective participants in the prevention of mosquito borne diseases like dengue and malaria. Skin irritations owing to their usage are uncommon.

It is also very important to drain out any stagnated water around the residence. Any container or flowerpots containing water has to be emptied. Clothing that aids in minimal exposition of the body has to be adopted like full sleeves shirts or tops and pants. Victims should be safeguarded against further bites.

Chickungunya is not fatal. But however it is best to start getting treated at the beginning of the ailment itself. Active adherence to the preventive measures can help a great way in keeping the disease at bay.

Story first published: Friday, June 24, 2011, 11:32 [IST]
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