Chikungunya: Things You Need to Know!

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by the same mosquitoes that also transmit dengue fever and yellow fever. Commonly known as “that terrible ache disease,” chikungunya has symptoms such as high fever, joint pain and swelling, nausea, headaches and rash.

It is not typically life-threatening but can be debilitating for many who get it. Read on to find out more about chikungunya and what you can do to protect yourself from contracting this disease if you are traveling to an area where it occurs.

What is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by the same mosquitoes that also transmit dengue fever and yellow fever. It was first reported in the Indian subcontinent in the 1950s and became an epidemic in tropical regions throughout the world during the first decade of the 21st century. Chikungunya is a non-fatal disease characterized by fever and joint pain, especially in the hands and feet. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint swelling, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, and fatigue.

Symptoms begin an average of about 10 days after exposure to the chikungunya virus, but range from 4-21 days. The joint pain associated with chikungunya is often quite severe, but rarely lasts longer than a month. Although chikungunya is rarely fatal, the joint pain can be debilitating and cause considerable discomfort.

Additionally, chikungunya is a major vector-borne (transmitted by biting insects) disease that can cause major outbreaks in tropical and subtropical areas around the world.

Who Gets Chikungunya?

Anyone can get chikungunya, but it is more likely in areas where the disease is endemic. People living in or traveling to regions where the disease is currently being transmitted are at the highest risk. There is no vaccine for chikungunya and no specific treatment for the disease.

Symptoms are treated as they occur and are managed in the same way as other types of viral illnesses. Those who have weakened immune systems may be at increased risk for complications from chikungunya, especially if they also have chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, or autoimmune disorders.

How is Chikungunya Transmitted?

The chikungunya virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. It is not known to be transmitted from person to person, although there have been a very small number of cases of sexual transmission. Chikungunya virus is found in the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East.

It is likely that the mosquitoes that carry the chikungunya virus will also carry dengue fever and may also carry yellow fever. In areas where chikungunya is being transmitted, efforts are being made to reduce the mosquito population by spraying and other means. Travelers can protect themselves by using mosquito repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors, and using indoor/outdoor air conditioning units.

Where is Chikungunya Currently Occurring?

The Caribbean, Asia, Africa, and Central and South America have been the primary locations for chikungunya outbreaks. In the Caribbean and South America, the outbreaks have been increasing in intensity and duration for more than a decade.

Caribbean – In the Caribbean, chikungunya has been present in the region for 10 years and is endemic in the Caribbean islands of Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Martin, and Saint Lucia. In addition, chikungunya has been detected in the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands.

Asia – Chikungunya has been endemic in Asia for many years, with periodic outbreaks. Major outbreaks have been reported in India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

Africa – Chikungunya is endemic in Africa and has been present in the East African countries of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda for many years. The chikungunya outbreak that is occurring in Africa is similar to the outbreaks in the Caribbean in the fact that transmission has been going on for many years in certain areas.

In recent years, the chikungunya virus has transmitted to a larger number of countries and been transmitted by mosquitoes in a wider geographic area in some of these endemic countries.

How to Protect Yourself from Chikungunya?

Protect yourself from mosquito bites and the chikungunya virus by using insect repellent containing DEET, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants outdoors, and sleeping under mosquito nets. If you have recently returned from an area where chikungunya is being transmitted, monitor your health closely for the first 10 days after your return.

If you develop a fever accompanied by joint pain, headache, rash, and/or muscle pain, see a doctor and let him/her know that you have recently returned from an area where chikungunya virus is being transmitted.

Conclusion: What is the best treatment for Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is an increasingly common viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes in tropical and subtropical areas around the world. It is not fatal but can be very debilitating, with joint pain being a major symptom. There is no specific treatment for chikungunya, but symptoms are treated as they occur.

People living in or traveling to areas where the disease is being transmitted should use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and sleep under mosquito nets to protect themselves from mosquito bites and prevent the spread of chikungunya.


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