Today someone came into the surgery handed me a copy of an article on Chikungunya virus found on the Internet and said, ” My mother and I are going to Jamaica and should we be worried?” Strangely enough I had just read about Chikunyunya Virus and remembered probably because the name fascinated me.
Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease first described during an outb
reak in southern
Tanzania in 1952. It is an RNA virus that belongs to the alphavirus genus of the family Togaviridae.
The virus is passed to humans by two species of mosquito of the genus Aedes: A. albopictus and A. aegypti.
Animal reservoirs of the virus include monkeys, birds, cattle, and rodents.
This is in contrast to dengue, for which only humans are hosts.
The name ‘chikungunya’ derives from a word in the Kimakonde language, meaning “to become contorted” and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain (arthralgia).
Yes it does exist and is found globally as illustrated below :-
Where Has Chikungunya Virus Been Found?
Countries and territories where chikungunya cases have been reported* (as of March 10, 2015)
* Prior to 2013, chikungunya virus outbreaks had been identified in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In fact last year there Were 4 reported cases in Montpelier,France
* In late 2013, the first local transmission of chikungunya virus in the Americas was identified in Caribbean countries and territories. Local transmission means that mosquitoes in the area have been infected with the virus and are spreading it to people.
* Since then, local transmission has been identified in 44 countries or territories throughout the Americas with more than 1.2 million suspected cases reported to the Pan American Health Organization from affected areas.
* Symptoms are generally self-limiting and last for 2–3 days. The virus remains in the human system for 5-7 days
* Most patients recover fully and the illness is mild and it is rarely fatal and then usually in vulnerable people.
* It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.
* Joint pain can be debilitating and can vary in duration and may last months or even years.
* Occasional cases of eye, neurological and heart complications have been reported, as well as gastrointestinal complaints. Serious complications are not common, but in older people, the disease can contribute to the cause of death.
* The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.
* There is no treatment or cure for the disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms using painkillers and anti- inflammatory drugs. It is diagnosed by a simple blood test which can differentiate it from Dengue Fever. There is no vaccine available at present.
The most effective means of prevention are protection against contact with the disease-carrying mosquitoes and mosquito control.
* These include using insect repellents with substances such as DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide; also known as N,N’-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide or NNDB), icaridin (also known as picaridin and KBR3023), PMD (p-menthane-3,8-diol, a substance derived from the lemon eucalyptus tree), or IR3535.
* Wearing bite-proof long sleeves and trousers also offers protection.
* In addition, garments can be treated with pyrethroids, a class of insecticides that often has repellent properties. Vaporized pyrethroids (for example in mosquito coils) are also insect repellents.
* Securing screens on windows and doors will help to keep mosquitoes out of the house. In the case of the day-active A. aegypti and A. albopictus, however, this will have only a limited effect, since many contacts between the mosquitoes and humans occur outside.