Chikungunya: Facts

Chikungunya: Virus 

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne alpha virus that was first isolated after a 1952 outbreak in modern-day Tanzania .A number of chikungunya outbreaks is due to the change in the genetic sequence which altered the viral coat protein which allows it to multiply more easily in the mosquito cells. The virus uses Asian tiger mosquito (invasive vector ) and the main vector being Aedes aegypti. Precautions need to be taken to stop the growth of the vector to combat the virus spread.

In 2006 there was a large outbreak in India . The virus re-emerged in 2006 after a gap of 32 years and caused an explosive outbreak affecting 13 states. The states first affected were Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Kerala. The tropical environment of India aids in the mosquito growth and hence spread of the virus.

Now in the year 2016 the outbreak in Delhi and regions near to Delhi is large.  According to the Department of Microbiology at AIIMS, 712 samples were tested at its lab this year, of which 391 tested positive — 362 of the positive cases were tested between July 1 and August 20. Last year, only 64 cases were reported in Delhi.

Chikungunya can be diagnosed by a simple blood test. The commonly available ELISA blood test can be used to check Chikungunya antibodies. While this may take longer to become positive, virological tests like RT-PCR (Reverse Transcriptase PCR) can be used for earlier detection of virus in the blood – as early as the first 5 days after the onset of symptoms.

Research is ongoing to find a vaccine for Chikungunya. The disease is spreading outside Asia and it is suspected that new strains of Chikungunya viruses are out .

Note: It is a cumulative data from various sources.

Staying safe:   

Mosquitoes breed in fresh water. Prevent water logging in your area, and discard the bottles, tyres, dishes and other areas where water logging is possible.

Cover water coolers and tanks, and clean them frequently. Donot allow water to stay stagnated for more than a day.

Children wear clothes that cover their hands and legs while going out to play, and do not allow them to play near water bodies.

If diagnosed with dengue or chikungunya, take plenty of rest. Water, fruit juices, coconut water and electrolyte solutions help in staying hydrated.

The blood platelet count has to monitered and if required platelet transfusion may be needed.

Do net self-medicate. Antibiotics and steroids do not show any benefit and can have adverse effect. Aspirin should be avoided. Paracetamol can be taken to reduce fever.