Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease. The virus is spread by bites from infected Aedes mosquitoes, the same species which can also transmit dengue. These mosquitoes can be indentified by the white stripes on their black bodies and legs. They are aggressive daytime biters, with peak feeding activity at dawn and dusk. Chikungunya shares some clinical signs with dengue and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.
The name chikungunya originates from a verb in the Kimakonde language, meaning ‘to become contorted’. This refers to the ‘stooped’ appearance of those suffering with joint pain.
What are the symptoms?
- Sudden onset of high fever
- Severe joint pain mainly in the arms and legs which may last for weeks or months
- Muscle pain
- Back pain
- Rash (~ 50% of cases)
Symptoms appear on average 3 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Complications are rare, but more common in :
- Infants (<1year)
- Elderly (>65 years)
- People with other chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, etc.
How is chikungunya treated?
There is NO specific medication for this virus. Treatment is symptomatic and can include rest, fluids, and medicines to relieve symptoms of fever and joint pains. Aspirin should be avoided.
There is no commercial chikungunya vaccine
What should be done if you have the symptoms?
- Record your symptoms and see a doctor.
- Protect yourself against further mosquito bites
- If you are sick with chikungunya, avoiding bites will help to protect others from getting sick.
AVOID MOSQUITO BITES!
Prevention and Control
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Use mosquito repellant on exposed skin including: DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Ensure window/door screens are intact
- Preventing standing water prevents Aedes mosquitoes
- Cover water drums and water pails to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
- Replace water in flower vases once a week.
- Clean water containers once a week.
- Scrub the sides well to remove eggs of mosquitoes sticking to the sides.
- Clean gutters of leaves and debris so that rainwater will not collect as breeding places of mosquitoes.
- Old tires should be punctured or cut to avoid accumulation of water.
- Collect and dispose all unusable tin cans, jars and bottles.
Websites: www.cdc.gov ; www.who.int ; www.doh.gov.ph
Disclaimer: Insular Health Care, Inc. disclaims any liability or responsibility for the consequences of any actions taken in reliance on the health advisory or safety tips. The health-related materials contained herein are not intended to establish policy, procedure or standard of care.