The mosquito may seem a very small creature, but can be deadly as they spread quite a few severe infections, with chikungunya being one of them. The disease got its name from an African language, which means to walk bent over.
Chikungunya is a viral disease that is carried by specific varieties of infected mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). It was originally confused for dengue, which is another mosquito-transmitted infection, but then called out as a separate disease. Both diseases start off with non-diagnostic symptoms including fever, rashes, fatigue, anaemia and headache. Dengue could be distinguished by the lowered platelet count, while the persistent joint pains and eye pain could be the distinguishing factor for the chikungunya.
The mosquito is the vector, which picks up the virus from one infected person and spreads it to another person. The virus does not spread directly from one person to the other. Once it reaches the blood stream, it multiplies in the body, and over a period of 1 to 12 days, the symptoms begin to appear.
Symptoms: The symptoms of chikungunya are listed below, which reflect the effects on the body.
The symptoms are generally nondiagnostic and generic including fever, rashes, joint pain, muscle aches, eye pain, fatigue, tiredness, lethargy, headaches, nausea and vomiting. The eye pain which occurs behind the eyes and the joint pains are the indicative symptoms, which point to chikungunya. In fact, the joint pains make the patient assume a stooped posture, and that is where the name chikungunya was originally derived from.
Most of the above symptoms subside over a period of 10 to 15 days but the joint pain continues. In fact, in many, it can continue to exist for months and even years and eventually develop into rheumatoid arthritis.
Though chikungunya is not a fatal disease by itself, it can produce long-term symptoms which can be severely disabling and affect the quality of life.
Anybody who is bitten by the infected mosquito can develop the disease, but there are some groups of people at a higher risk. These include newborns, the elderly people, and people with chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and chronic heart disease.
However, once infected, the person develops immunity and future infections do not happen unless their immunity is severely compromised.
Treatment: There is no specific treatment, and symptom relief is provided through rest, hydration, pain killers for joint and muscle, antipyretics for fever, and avoiding aspirin.
While there is no vaccine for chikungunya, preventing exposure to mosquito bites when you are travelling and preventing mosquito breeding and reducing exposure to mosquitoes by using repellents and nets are advisable.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!