What is Chikungunya Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment

The word “chikungunya” means “to become contorted” in Kimakonde, a language spoken in parts of Tanzania and Mozambique, which refers to the contorted walk of infected persons who develop severe joint pain.

What is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is an illness caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Chikungunya disease rarely results in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling.

Causes of Chikungunya 

Humans and other primates are the natural hosts for the chikungunya virus. The virus is spread to humans by the bite of an infected female Aedes species mosquito – Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus. These are the same tropical and sub-tropical mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus.

symptoms of chickenguniya

Symptoms include high fever (102-104°F), joint swelling and pain (lower back, ankle, knees, wrists or fingers), rash, headache, nausea and fatigue.

  • Most people infected with chikungunya virus will develop some symptoms.
  • Symptoms usually begin 3–7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
  • The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain.
  • Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.
  • Chikungunya disease does not often result in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling.
  • Most patients feel better within a week. In some people, the joint pain may persist for months.
  • People at risk for more severe disease include newborns infected around the time of birth, older adults (≥65 years), and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.
  • Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

How to test chickenguniya 

Chikungunya can be detected using serological tests which will look for antibodies in your blood. Unlike chikungunya, recovery from an infection will give life-long immunity.

  • The symptoms of chikungunya are similar to those of dengue and Zika, diseases spread by the same mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya.
  • See your healthcare provider if you develop the symptoms described above and have visited an area where chikungunya is found.
  • If you have recently traveled, tell your healthcare provider when and where you traveled.
  • Your healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for chikungunya or other similar viruses like dengue and Zika.

How concerned should I be?

Most people recover fully, with symptoms resolving in seven to 10 days. For some people, joint pain may continue for weeks or, rarely, months. Death from chikungunya is very rare, but the virus sometimes causes severe complications, mostly in older adults. People who have been infected once are likely to be protected from future infections.

Treatment of Chikungunya Fever

There are no specific treatments for chikungunya. There is no vaccine currently available. It is treated symptomatically, usually with bed rest, fluids, and medicines to relieve symptoms of fever and aching such as ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, or paracetamol. Aspirin should be avoided.
  • There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat chikungunya virus.
  • Treat the symptoms:
    • Get plenty of rest.
    • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
    • Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain.
    • Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding).
    • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
  • If you have chikungunya, prevent mosquito bites for the first week of your illness.
    • During the first week of infection, chikungunya virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites.
    • An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.
 

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