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How To Prevent The Spread Of Chikungunya Virus

Chikungunya is a vector-borne disease caused by the bite of Aedes mosquitoes. The disease-causing virus, known as alphavirus, gets transmitted to humans through the mosquito bites and cause symptoms such as high-grade fever, joint pain, rashes, eye problems and many others.

Relieving the symptoms of chikungunya is the mainstay treatment for chikungunya fever. Currently, there are no vaccines available to kill the chikungunya virus in humans, the best way is to prevent the condition from occurring.

In this article, you will find details on how to prevent the spread of the chikungunya virus. Take a look.

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1. Stay careful during certain hours

Chikungunya is transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus that tend to be active during early mornings and late nights. Take measure to ensure that you are extra-careful during these hours and are avoiding mosquito bites. [1]

2. Avoid dark and damp areas

The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus is responsible for the spread of chikungunya in many countries such as Central Africa, South America and Europe. They find damp and dark areas a perfect breeding ground. Therefore, avoid spending a lot of time in dark or damp areas. Also, mosquitoes are attracted to yellow bulbs thus, replace the bulbs or avoid the area.

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3. Avoid stagnant water

Avoiding stagnant or still water bodies is the prominent step to prevent the spread of the chikungunya virus. Stagnant water is the perfect place for mosquitoes to lay eggs and larvae to grow. Make sure there are no stagnant water bodies in the vicinity and if there are any, add insecticides to the stagnant water to stop the breeding of mosquitoes. [2] Also, discard items in which water can be collected during the rainy season such as old tires, open cans and bottles, etc.

4. Keep the surrounding clean

Keep the house and neighbourhood clean and cover the dustbins and garbage disposal cans to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.. Also, make sure to get the gutters cleaned periodically. Inform the local sanitary authorities if the garbage in your vicinity is not being disposed of properly.

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5. Cover yourself

A mosquito bite is the foremost cause of virus spread in the human body. Wear long-sleeved tops and long bottoms to protect yourself from the bite of mosquitoes. Also, prefer wearing light-coloured and thick clothes to repel mosquitoes. Avoid wearing dark-coloured clothes as they tend to attract mosquitoes.

6. Avoid visiting endemic areas

Chikungunya has spread all over the world but mainly found in African and South American regions. Avoid visiting places where chikungunya is prevalent or is an endemic as you may also get the illness and may transfer it with you to your place of residence. If you are travelling anyways, ensure to keep yourself away from a mosquito bite.

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7. Clean coolers more often

Mosquitoes find domestic and peri-domestic containers the best places to breed. Deserted coolers hold water for a long time and thus, provide the best environment for breeding if left at unattended corners. Clean air-coolers and tanks in your house, so that mosquitoes don't find their conventional place. [3]

8. Use DEET based insect repellents

Some insect repellents are considered safe and effective to repel mosquitoes, even for breastfeeding and pregnant women. According to the CDC, use repellents with active ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol.

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9. Allow proper fumigation

Fumigation is often considered a containment measure rather than a preventive measure as it helps to reduce the number of infected mosquitoes and prevent them from biting a person and pass the virus. They are odourless and have no adverse effect on human health.

10. Watch out for symptoms

Chikungunya symptoms such as fever, drowsiness, vomiting, joint pains and headache are often confused with dengue fever and Zika. Keep an eye on these symptoms and never delay the treatment process. If you notice any such symptoms, immediately contact a medical expert. This is because the progression of chikungunya can lead to serious complications such as chronic arthritis and blindness.

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11. Eat Healthily And Drink Plenty Of Fluids

A viral infection can cause weakness and dehydration in people. Eating immune-boosting foods such as vitamin C can help fight the pathogens effectively. On the other hand, drinking a lot of fluids such as coconut water may help balance the electrolytes of the body and flush out viral toxins, thus speeding up the recovery process. Also, avoid eating outside and junk foods.

Other Ways

  • Be careful while using mosquito coils or repellents. Many of these products contain harmful ingredients that may cause health hazards.
  • Don't apply mosquito repellents on the palms, near the mouth, ears, cut skin, bruised skin or irritated skin.
  • Keep children away from mosquito coils as they may cause burns if handled improperly.
  • Use under bed nets.
  • For children, avoid using mosquito repellents that contain oil of lemon, eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol.
  • If the repellents are in the form of sprays, first spray them to hands and then apply them on children skin in a small amount.
  • Avoid using repellents in areas under clothes.
Story first published: Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 17:13 [IST]