The chikungunya virus is a mosquito-borne illness that has been identified in Asia, Africa, Europe and Pacific and Indian Oceans as well as the Caribbean. If you have not heard about this condition before, it is best that you are familiar with the symptoms and how it is managed.
What are the symptoms?
The usual symptoms of an infection with the chikungunya virus include fever and joint pain. The other symptoms that can occur include the following:
- Muscular pain
- Swollen joints
The signs and symptoms of chikungunya are strikingly similar to dengue fever which is another mosquito-borne condition that is prevalent in different parts of the globe where outbreaks of the condition have occurred.
Management of chikungunya
Even today, there is still no available treatment for the chikungunya virus. Even though the condition is rarely deadly, it can lead to serious symptoms that can be debilitating. If an individual has been infected with the chikungunya virus, there are measures that can be done even though there is no available cure.
- Increase the intake of fluids and avoid alcohol and caffeine to prevent dehydration
- The individual should rest as much as possible to allow the body to heal
- Provide over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Avoid giving aspirin to children below 18 years old unless instructed by a healthcare professional.
In most circumstances, the chikungunya virus resolves on its own within a week. Occasionally, the joint pain can persist for months.
Since there is no available vaccine to prevent infection from the chikungunya virus, it is vital to avoid acquiring the condition. This can be done by avoiding being bitten by mosquitoes while travelling to areas of the globe where outbreaks have been reported.
Protecting against mosquito bites can be challenging but there are things that can be done to minimize the risk such as the following:
- Install screens on windows and doors or at least utilize mosquito netting over the bed if available.
- Utilize an air-conditioning unit while indoors
- Wear long sleeves and long pants if possible
- Empty containers that contain standing or stagnant water in the surroundings since mosquitoes can breed in standing water
- Utilize a suitable insect repellant
If an individual has been infected with the chikungunya virus, it is vital to take the necessary steps to put a stop to the spread of the condition. Remember that it can be passed on from one individual to another when a mosquito bites an infected individual during the initial week of the condition and then bites another individual.
One way to prevent the spread of the condition is to take extra precautions during the initial week to avoid being bit by mosquitoes.
Always bear in mind that the chikungunya virus can be spread by the same types of mosquitoes that spread the dengue virus.