Chikungunya: Who spreads it…, the Symptoms…, Epidemology…, Prevention…

August 7, 2006

Chikungunya not Unfamiliar to Coastal Areas – Experts

New IndPress Mangalore, Aug 5: Is the chikungunya knocking at our doors? Yes, say health experts. As many as 15 suspected cases have been reported from D K district since May. The health department is still awaiting the results of blood samples sent for testing at the National Virology Laboratory, Pune. District health officer Dr Jagananth said that the disease is not unknown in coastal areas though no cases have been reported from coastal districts of the state so far. The disease had been reported in Madras and Kolkata in 1963, he said. The disease has already affected over three lakh people in the State so far and has shown signs of spreading to newer areas. The disease has spread more rapidly in areas with unhygienic atmosphere and population.

Who spreads it? Chikungunya is a relatively rare form of viral fever caused by an alphavirus that is spread through bites from the aedes aegypti mosquito. The name is derived from the Makonde 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. However, in 2005-2006, 200 deaths have been associated with chikungunya on Riunion Island and a widespread outbreak in southern India (especially in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh).

Symptoms: The symptoms of Chikungunya include fever, which can reach 102.2 Farenheit a petechial, or maculopapular rash usually involving the limbs and trunk. Arthritis affecting multiple joints can be debilitating. There can also be headache, conjunctival infection and slight photophobia.

Epidemology: Chikungunya was first detected in Tanzania, Africa in 1952. An outbreak of chikungunya was discovered in Port Klang in Malaysia in 1999 affecting 27 people. There have been reports of large-scale outbreak of this virus in southern India. At least 80,000 people in Gulbarga, Tumkur, Bidar, Raichur, Bellary, Chitradurga, Davanagere, Kolar and Bijapur districts are known to have been affected since December 2005.

Prevention: There is no vaccine or preventive drug. Prevention tips are similar to those for dengue or West Nile virus. Use insect repellent containing DEET or another EPA-registered active ingredient on exposed skin. Wear long sleeves and pants (with permethrin or another repellent). Have secure screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flowerpots, buckets and barrels. Additionally, a person with chikungunya fever or dengue should limit their exposure to mosquito bites.