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Reducing the effects of chikungunya

Published:Tuesday | September 30, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Chikungunya virus is transmitted to people by mosquitoes. The most common symptoms of chikungunya virus infection are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Outbreaks have occurred in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In late 2013, chikungunya virus was found for the first time in the Americas on islands in the Caribbean. There is a risk that the virus will be imported to new areas by infected travellers. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat chikungunya virus infection.

Transmission

Chikungunya virus is transmitted to people through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.

Chikungunya virus is most often spread to people by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. These are the same mosquitoes that transmit the dengue virus. They bite mostly during the daytime.

Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment

Symptoms

Most people infected with chikungunya virus will develop some symptoms.

Symptoms usually begin three to seven 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 (over 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.

Diagnosis

The symptoms of chikungunya are similar to those of dengue, another disease spread by mosquitoes.

See your doctor if you develop the symptoms described above.

If you have recently travelled, tell your doctor.

Your doctor may order blood tests to look for chikungunya or other similar diseases.

Treatment

There is no medicine to treat chikungunya virus infection or disease.

Decrease the symptoms:

Get plenty of rest.

Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.

Take medicines, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, or paracetamol, to relieve fever and pain.