Chikungunya fever is caused by a virus and is transmitted by bite of Aedes aegypti mosquito which bites during the day. The symptoms of the disease are similar to dengue fever. In some patients it can cause severe, occasionally persistent, joint pain (arthritis), as well as fever and rash. The infection is rarely life-threatening but it can cause substantial morbidity and economic loss. The name Chikungunya fever is from Swahili language and it means "that which bends up". It indicates the patient’s stooped posture due to joint pains. Chikungunya fever is known to occur in both sporadic outbreaks and large epidemics.
There are no preventive drugs or vaccines to prevent chikungunya fever. The best way you can prevent chikungunya fever is by taking steps to avoid mosquitoes bites and control breeding of mosquito.
Measures to avoid mosquito bites include
- Wear protective clothing such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
- If required use permethrin (a common synthetic chemical insecticide) on your clothing and shoes. Clothes pretreated with permethrin are also available.
- Remove the place where the Aedes mosquitoes lives and breeds (i.e. their habitat which includes a wide variety of manmade containers commonly found around human dwellings). Remove collected water from places such as containers, birdbaths, discarded tires, pots etc.
- Regularly change the water in coolers, pools, rain barrels, and potted plant trays to eradicate potential mosquito habitats.
Specific antiviral drugs or vaccine for treatment of chikungunya fever are not available. Hence early diagnosis and proper treatment are important for control of infection. People with chikungunya fever are treated symptomatically.
- Fever: Acetaminophen or ibuprofen are used to relieve fever. If you are in a hot environment, drink plenty of fluid to prevent dehydration.
- Pain in muscles and joints: Ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen may be prescribed to relieve pain. Avoid aspirin especially in children.
- Take adequate rest.
- At home patient should use bed-nets, preferably permethrin-impregnated nets while resting and other measures such as use of insecticide sprays should be considered to avoid further mosquito exposure (this is done so that they do not contribute to the transmission cycle).