Chikungunya or CHIKV is a virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes. The chikungunya virus is part of the togaviridae family.
Chikungunya is transmitted from human to human through female mosquitoes that suck the blood of infected patients. The mosquito type responsible for transmitting this virus is the Aedes type; aedes albopictus and aedes aegypti.
The first case of chikungunya was recorded in Tanzania in 1952. Since then, chikungunya has spread to various tropical countries in Asia, and to the continents of Europe and America.
Causes of Chikungunya
Chikungunya has symptoms similar to dengue fever. Both are carried by the Aedes mosquito, but dengue is caused by the flaviviridae flavivirus.
The difference between the two diseases is the incubation period. While dengue fever has an average incubation period of 3 to 7 days, the incubation period for chikungunya is up to 12 days.
Both patients of dengue fever and chikungunya will experience swelling and pain in the joints, but at different sites. The painful joints for chikungunya patients are in the hands and feet, while those of dengue fever patients are in the knees, shoulders, back to the arms and legs.
In some serious cases, dengue fever can lead to hemorrhagic fever. Based on medical reports from India, the area of these two diseases is endemic, hence it is possible for a person to catch both diseases at the same time.
When to See a Doctor for Chikungunya?
If you experience the above symptoms and have visited an area with a Chikungunya outbreak, it is best to see a tropical-infectious diseases specialist doctor immediately.
Diagnosis of chikungunya is made through consultation with a specialist doctor and medical tests in a laboratory.
Based on symptoms such as joint pain and fever, doctors may suspect chikungunya disease. The doctor will ask if the patient has ever visited an area with an outbreak of chikungunya, as well as whether the area where the patient lives has chikungunya cases.
Next, the doctor conducts a blood test to determine if the virus has entered the bloodstream. This series of examinations is important to obtain the accuracy of the diagnosis, considering that chikungunya has symptoms similar to dengue fever.
Symptoms of Chikungunya
Chikungunya has several distinctive symptoms. Patients who have been infected with the virus will see and feel signs of infection such as:
- High fever
Chikungunya sufferers will experience a high fever of up to 40° C in the early stages of viral infection. This fever can last several days to a week. In some cases, the fever may disappear for awhile, but reappear the next day
Patients will experience headaches that appear along with high fever for several days.
- Weakened Body
Your body may feel weak and you will feel fatigue, this can get worse if you also experience insomnia.
- Pain and Swelling in the Joints
During the incubation period, the patient will feel pain in the joints in the leg area. In some cases, joint pain is also accompanied by swelling. Pain is also felt in the muscles and ligaments. The joint pain may persist even after the Chikungunya disease has been cured. In some cases, joint pain can last up to six months.
- Skin Rashes
Another characteristic of chikungunya is the appearance of a rash on your hands or other parts of your body. In some cases, a rash can appear on the face and legs. The chikungunya rash normally looks like reddish patches.
Treatment for Chikungunya
There is no specific treatment for chikungunya. A vaccine for the chikungunya virus is still not available. Chikungunya can be treated with adequate rest, as well as with medications that help relieve joint pain and high fever.
Types of medications commonly consumed to treat chikungunya include:
Ibuprofen can help relieve pain, fever and headaches.
Like Ibuprofen, Naproxen can also relieve pain in muscles as well as heal inflammation.
Acetaminophen is used to relieve fever and pain in bones and muscles
It is very easy to get Paracetamol. This drug is mainly used to cure headaches and reduce fever.
People with chikungunya should not take aspirin and other NSAIDS medications. This is due to the risk of worsening platelet dysfunction.
Treatment Cost for Chikungunya
Laboratory tests normally use IgM and IgG anti-chikungunya antibodies. The highest IgM antibodies are 3-5 weeks after the disease onset and may last up to 2 months.
For more information regarding the estimated costs of chikungunya treatment, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Chikungunya
A vaccine for chikungunya is not available at this time.
The best way to prevent chikungunya is to control the Aedes mosquito population, especially in the neighborhood. Stagnant water that could potentially be breeding grounds should be examined and removed.
The use of insecticides can also be an option. If you don’t want to use chemicals, some plants have natural abilities as aedes repellents – such as lavender, lemongrass, and geraniums.
When there is a flood in a residential area, it is advisable for the residence members to immediately evacuate to a dry place to avoid contracting chikungunya and other diseases.
It is also advisable to keep the skin covered as much as you can with a cloth to protect against mosquito bites. Mosquito repellent lotion can be used if it cannot cover the whole body.
Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Chikungunya
Caring for chikungunya patients is relatively easy. You should pay attention to nutritional intake to boost the patient’s immune system.
There are several foods and drinks recommended to be consumed by patients diagnosed with chikungunya, including:
- Coconut water
Apart from being a refreshing drink, coconut water helps release toxins from the body. It is useful as a detoxification drink. Coconut water can be consumed several times a day
- Vitamin C-Rich Fruits
When you are sick, your body needs a strong immune system to fight disease. Fruits such as kiwi, oranges and red guava contain high vitamin C which helps you recover.
- Green Vegetables
Green vegetables are the healthiest types of vegetables you can consume. The nutrients contained in green vegetables can help relieve symptoms of chikungunya.
You should stay hydrated when you have a high fever. Drinking enough water can increase the body’s metabolism and increase body fluids to prevent you from being dehydrated.