Chikungunya fever is a viral illness that resembles dengue fever. It spreads by the bite of infected mosquitoes.
Chikungunya virus is a member of the genus Alphavirus, in the family Togaviridae. The fever is characterized by severe, sometimes persistent, joint pain (arthritis), as well as fever and rash.
Chikungunya virus was first isolated from the blood of a febrile patient in Tanzania in 1953. Since then it has caused several human epidemics in many areas of Africa and Asia and most recently in limited areas of Europe. However, it is not a life threatening disease. But the widespread occurrence of the fever causes substantial morbidity and economic loss.
Symptoms of chikungunya
Chikungunya virus infection most often is characterized by
The fever can be severe, even reaching up to 104 degree Celsius. However, in some cases, especially in children, no symptoms are observed.
Usually, the attack is sudden and occurs within one to 12 days of the infection caused by a mosquito bite.
Some of the common physical symptoms of Chikungunya are:
- Redness in eye
- Difficulty in looking at light
- Severe fever with headache and joint pain
- Rashes on limbs and trunks
Causes of chikungunya
As said before, Chikungunya disease is transmitted among humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The primary transmission agent for Chikungunya Virus (CHIKV) is Aedes aegypti mosquito. This type of mosquito is also known as yellow fever mosquito. This species of mosquito is usually found in tropics. For this reason, the spread of Chikungunya is predominantly seen in Asian and African countries. Recently, another mosquito species named Aedes albopictus is found to be a carrier of the disease.
The Aedes mosquito has evolved over the years and has effectively adapted itself for biting humans. While approaching humans, they reduce the humming of wings and attack from below to ensure minimal detection. This species of mosquito are usually seen in the urban areas, however recently they are have also migrated to many rural areas.
The Aedes mosquito needs only 2ml of water for breeding. After breeding the eggs can lay dormant up to one year. A carrier mosquito is capable of transmitting the virus to the next generation. However, the Chikungunya virus is sensitive to heat. It is a RNA virus and is classified into three major groups, namely, West African, Central African and Asian.
However, so far there is no evidence to indicate a person-to-person transmission of the disease.
Diagnosis of chikungunya
This is made on the basis of the patient's clinical features, places and dates of travel (if the patient is from a non-endemic country or area), activities, and epidemiologic history of the location where infection occurred.
The laboratory diagnosis of chikungunya involves the testing of serum or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Through this testing, presence of virus-specific IgM and neutralizing antibodies are detected.
In some fatal cases, laboratory tests like nucleic acid amplification, histopathology with immune histochemistry, and virus culture of biopsy or autopsy tissues can be conducted.
The test results are normally obtained within four to 14 days from the submission of the specimen. Initial serological testing are performed using IgM-capture ELISA, MIA (Microsphere-based Immunoassay) and IgG ELISA. In case if the initial results are positive, further confirmatory tests are conducted.
Treatment for chikungunya
Supportive care and rest
There is no antiviral drug, medicine or effective vaccine specifically for Chikungunya. Currently, research initiatives have been taken for the development of DNA vaccination against Chikungunya. However, it is usually cured by the immune system of the human body.
The treatment for Chikungunya is aimed at the symptoms related to the disease. The patient is advised to take sufficient rest and consume more fluid food. Usually, medicines like paracetamol are prescribed for relief from pain. However, aspirin should be avoided.
The patient can also be given honey and lime mix, which creates a soothing effect on the disease. However, specific medicines are usually avoided for quick recovery. Mild exercise of the joints is also helpful in relieving the morning joint pains and in improving stiffness.
The recovery time for this disease is up to two weeks for normal healthy humans. In case of elderly, the recovery is very slow and may take up to three months. In some extreme cases, the joint pain can last even up to a full year.
Alternative Treatments for chikungunya
Ayurvedic Cure for chikungunya
Triphala, which is an ayurvedic mix of three fruits, namely, Harada (haritaki), Amla (amalaki) and Behada (bibhitaki) is used as medicine for Chikungunya. Moreover, powdered Sunflower seed taken along with honey is a good supplement. It is advised to take the mix about three times a day along with the regular medicines to gain relief from joint pains.
Apart from this, other concoctions like Amrutharista, Mahasudarshana Churna, panchathiktha kashayam, Sudarshan Churnam, Dhanvantaram Gutika, and Amruthotharam Kashayam can also be used for treatment.
Homeopathy treatment for chikungunya
According to homeopathic doctors, there is an effective drug that prevents the onset of the disease. Moreover, there are several other drugs that are effective in speeding up the recovery process.
Homeopathy to prevent Chikungunya
The homeopathy medicine that prevents Chikungunya is Eupatorium perf. Since it’s practically very difficult to avoid mosquito bites, it is always wise to have medicinal prevention. This medicine if given to all the healthy people in an infected locality prevents the further spread of the disease.
This remedy effectively increases the immunity of the human body and fortifies it against the bite of an infected mosquito. Thereby, preventing the production of the active disease in the person's body.
During the infection, the patient is advised to take homeopathic medicines like Pyroginum, Rhus-tox, Cedron, Influenzinum, China and Arnica.
Homeopathy for the recovery of Chikungunya
Patients suffering from Chikungunya are found to have incapacitating joint pain or arthritis, stiffness and swelling of joints for weeks or months. This prevents them from maintaining a normal life for several weeks after illness due to debilitating stiffness and joint pain, weakness etc. Moreover, some patients suffer from prolonged fatigue lasting for several weeks after the illness.
The homeopathic drugs are mainly targeted at the symptoms.
The homeopathic drugs which relieves the sufferings after chikungunya very effectively are
- Ledum Pal
- Eupatorium Perfoliatum
Precaution for chikungunya
The best precaution for Chikungunya is the prevention of mosquito bites.
Some important tips:
- Use insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 on exposed skin.
- Wear long sleeves and pants.
- Treat the clothes with permethrin or other repellents.
- Use secure screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out
- Get rid of mosquito sources in and around the house by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Also, change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths once every week. In order to drain out water, drill holes in tire swings. Moreover, keep children's wading pools empty while not at use
Moreover, a person suffering from Chikungunya fever should limit his exposure to mosquito bites. This would prevent further spreading of the infection.
Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: December 29, 2014