Wed | Nov 14, 2018

Chik V and Me

Published:Thursday | November 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Why does chik-V appear to be acting

so strange, almost like a smart virus, attacking

the weakness in a person's body?

Like many infectious agents, the chikungunya virus has a liking (affinity) for certain tissues. In experimental models of chik-V infection, it appears that the virus has an affinity for muscles, nerves and joints. In severe infections, the spleen and brain may become involved.

In these tissues, the virus multiplies and induces damage by inflammation. Essentially, the body's immune system detects that there is a foreigner about and attempts to kill or eradicate the foreigner. In order for this to happen many different types of immune cells gather around the infected areas and each, in its own way, attempts to use the tools at its disposal to try and kill the foreigner.

Some immune cells produce chemicals such as cytokines, antibodies, while others try to engulf the viral particle or the cells infected with the virus. The net effect is that there is usually swelling, and pain of the affected area. Many tissues that may have been damaged before will then be further damaged by this inflammatory reaction.