What Is Chikungunya ?
Chikungunya is a kind of virus that gets spread by mosquitoes. People experience severe joint pain and an onset of fever upon being infected by this virus. The fever lasts for up to seven days. The joint pain may last for a couple of months or even a year. This virus is passed on by two mosquito species: A.aegypti and A.albopictus. Rodents, cattle, birds and monkeys are considered to be animal reservoirs of Chikungunya virus. Outbreaks of this disease have been experienced in Europe, America and Asia. There is no vaccination for this disease and it proves to be fatal only in rare cases. Medications, fluids and proper rest can help in its treatment.
How Is Chikungunya Caused ?
Chikungunya virus is a member of Togaviridae family and alpha virus genus. It is an RNA virus that gets transmitted through arthropods. Chikungunya is caused due to the bite of mosquitoes A.aegypti and A.albopictus. Other species also carry the potential to transmit this virus.
Chikungunya Symptoms :
The following symptoms show up when one gets infected with Chikungunya virus:
- Severe joint pain
- High fever
- Back pain
- Muscle pain
An abrupt joint pain and onset of serious fever are the major signs that show up during the condition. Headache, nausea, rash and fatigue are also common signs seen in patients.
The diagnosis is done by doctors based on the symptoms that show up. A physical exam is first performed by the doctor. The amount of antibodies is determined by carrying out a blood test. This helps in determining whether the person has been infected with the virus or not.
There is no actual cure for the condition. The procedures followed during the infection are same as that of the flu. The patients are suggested to take as much rest as possible. Doctors recommend anti-inflammatory drugs, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. If the pain experienced is severe then the doctor may prescribe a pain medication.
Chikungunya Prevention :
There is no vaccination available for protection against the virus that causes Chikungunya. The only prevention is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. Mosquito bites can be avoided by following the simple measures mentioned below:
- Avoid stagnation of water or formation of pools or collection of water in flowerpots.
- Use screens and nets on windows for keeping mosquitoes away from home.
- Have a mosquito net over your bed.
- Use insect repellants while you are outside.
- Reducing water logging can be of great help as these are breeding grounds of mosquitoes.
These simple precautionary measures can help in keeping the disease at bay.
Chikungunya virus is not contagious. This is because there is no proof of transmission of the virus from one human to another. This virus transmits only through mosquitoes. The case of the virus being transferred from a mother to her newborn baby is quite rare. However, researchers do suggest that the transmission may be possible during blood transfusions from an individual who has been affected by this virus.
Infection from Chikungunya virus poses complications more or less similar to those experienced when one is down with dengue fever. The fever poses several complications which have been listed below.
- Severe headache
- Muscle pain
- Sharp joint pain
- Swelling in the joints
- Mouth ulcers
- Loss of taste
The fever lasts from two days to a week. Few complications subside only after a few days. For a few patients, the fatigue lasts for several weeks. Some patients report a joint pain that is unbearable. It may last for even months and seem more or less equivalent to that caused during arthritis.
In some cases, fever complications have resulted even in death. However, the virus is not considered to be responsible for the death. The poor immunity of the patients has been considered to be the cause of death. When the immunity of a patient is weak, other medical conditions worsen and sometimes may turn out to be fatal. Chikungunya is considered to be dangerous when it occurs in aged people. This is because their bodies are already weak owing to the aging process. Contracting the Chikungunya virus may lead to paralysis, kidney disorders, cerebral problems and dementia. Children are also at risk of contracting the virus. It is often hard to notice the symptoms and hence the treatment gets delayed. Few people do not show symptoms even after being infected with this virus.
Chikungunya Home Remedies :
The most recognized symptom of Chikungunya is joint pain. In Ayurveda, this condition is referred to as the ‘Sandi Jwara.’ As there are no vaccines or drugs for the treatment, it is necessary to seek relief from the symptoms that show up in the patients. Here are some home remedies that can be followed to bring down the fever and ease the pain that the patients experience. Most patients have found these remedies to be really effective. These are simple and can be followed by anybody.
- Application of clove oil or garlic paste around the joint helps in getting relief from the pain.
- Chewing leaves of Ashwagandha plant is beneficial to reduce the fever.
- Patients are advised to bath in lukewarm mixed water with neem leaves and Epsom salt.
- While experiencing severe symptoms, it is advised to take grapes and cow milk to relieve the symptoms. The grapes need to be dry and seedless.
- Immunity can be increased by eating salads rich in raw carrots.
- Tulsi or the Holy Basil brings down the fever in patients.
- Patients are advised to drink coconut water. This helps in quicker recovery through detoxifying the liver.
- Papaya leaf proves out to be a miraculous remedy for Chikungunya. Papaya leaf extract improves the platelet count in less than four hours after consumption. This is beneficial as the platelet level falls after a person gets attacked by Chikungunya virus.
- Massaging the joints with castor oil mixed with cinnamon powder helps in relieving the joint pain experienced when one is infected with Chikungunya virus.
- One should remain completely hydrated and eat green leafy vegetables to boost the immunity system.
- Raisin, carom seeds, neem leaves and tulsi leaves concoction is also considered to be beneficial.