Chikungunya

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Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain which is often debilitating and varying in duration.

The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue and zika, hence it can be misdiagnosed in areas where they are common.

 

Signs and Symptoms

According to Malaysia’s Ministry of Health, nearly 1,000 chikungunya cases were recorded in the first half of year 2020. 

Chikungunya is characterized by an abrupt onset of fever frequently accompanied by joint pain. Other common signs and symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Rash

Joint pain caused by chikungunya is often severe and debilitating, lasting anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years. Serious complications are not common, but in older individuals, the disease may contribute to the cause of death.

People who are at high risk for more severe disease include:

  • Newborns infected around the time of birth
  • Older adults (> 65 years old)
  • People with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease

 

If you belong to the high risk group, seek treatment from healthcare professionals immediately upon infection.

 

Diagnosis

Chikungunya shares similar symptoms with that of dengue and Zika (diseases spread by the same mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya).

Visit your healthcare provider if you are exhibiting any symptoms described above or if you live/visited an area with risk of chikungunya. Your healthcare provider may order a blood test to confirm the diagnosis.

 

Treatment

There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for chikungunya. Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms by:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Take medicine such as acetaminophen or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain.
  • Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication

 

Prevention

Mosquitoes bite throughout the day. Hence, the most effective way to prevent infection from chikungunya virus is to prevent mosquito bites.

Here are some tips to prevent and control the spread of chikungunya:

  • Use insect repellents
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors
    1. Use screens on windows and doors, repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outdoors
    2. Use air conditioning, if available
    3. Stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water
    4. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers 
    5. Check indoors and outdoors for mosquitoes

Infectious Disease

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Kok Lai Sun
Specialty
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General Medicine
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