Little Window to Odisha - Prabhat Nath

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This is Prabhat Nath from Odisha. Currently I live in Hyderabad (India) and work as a Software Developer.
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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is a relatively rare form of viral fever caused by an alphavirus that is spread by mosquito bites from the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The name is derived from the African word meaning “that which bends up” in reference to the stooped posture developed as a result of the arthritic symptoms of the disease. Chikungunya is not considered to be fatal. Chikungunya virus is highly infective and disabling but is not transmissible between people.

In 2006, there was a big outbreak in the Andhra Pradesh state in India. Nearly 200,000 people were affected by this disease in the districts of Praksham and Nellore in the state. A separate outbreak of chikungunya fever was reported from Malegaon town in Nasik district, Maharashtra state resulting in over 2000 cases. In Orissa state, amost 5000 cases of fever with muscle aches and headache were reported. In Bangalore, there was an outbreak of Chikungunya with arthralgia/arthritis, rashes. So also in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh. The latest outbreak in Tamilnadu, India, 20,000 cases were reported.

How do humans infected

The chikungunya virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person infected with the chikungunya virus. Monkeys, and possibly other wild animals, may also serve as reservoirs of the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other humans when they bite.

Aedes aegypti (the yellow fever mosquito), a household container breeder and aggressive daytime biter which is attracted to humans, is the primary vector of chikungunya virus to humans. Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito) may also play a role in human transmission is Asia.

What are the symptoms

After an incubation period of 3-12 days there is a sudden onset of flu-like symptoms including a severe headache, chills, fever (>40°C, 104°F), joint pain, nausea, vomiting and a rash involving the limbs and trunk. The joints of the extremities in particular become swollen and painful to the touch. Some can suffer for joint pain for months. Children may display neurological symptoms.

How is it diagnosed

Sudden severe headache, chills, fever, joint and muscle pain are the commonest symptoms.

How is it treated

While supportive or palliative medical care with anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics is available, there is no specific treatment for chikungunya. The illness is usually self-limiting and resolves with time. There is no vaccine currently available.

How to prevent Chikungunya

Prevention is possible by controlling proliferation of mosquitoes in stagnant water. Water collection should be avoided by:
- Eliminating any still water found on roofs
- Seeing to it that water pipes are not clogged
- Properly covering all water tanks so that mosquitoes cannot get in
- Getting rid of any container capable of retaining water in the outdoor surroundings
(like used tyres, food cans, garbage, saucers under flower pots, etc)
- Renew water in flower vases at least once a week

Other precautions:

- Wear clothes that suitably cover arms and legs
- Use mosquito nets and mosquito repellent products (coils, sprays, topical lotions and creams)
- Have secure screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
- A person with chikungunya fever should limit their exposure to mosquito bites in order to avoid further spreading the infection, and should stay indoors or under a mosquito net.


posted by Name: Prabhat Nath @ 12:51 PM  
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