The cases of chikungunya have witnessed a surge with 230 cases, of total 287 so far this year, being registered in October alone, according to an IE report. It further stated that the worst affected city from chikungunya is Chandigarh that has recorded a total of 164 cases so far. According to Professor Dr PVM Lakshmi at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, the highest number of cases within Chandigarh are from Khuda Lahora, Dhanas, Nayagaon, Khuda Ali Sher, Burail, Mohali and Sectors 15, 24, 25, 44, 45. According to the report, the institute is testing around 15 positive cases daily with most of them adults and the “manifestations include fever and a rash in some cases, and patients are also reporting severe joint pains lasting four to six weeks”.
The IE report further quoted Professor Lakshmi as saying, “Both men and women are getting infected and people above 20 years of age are more infected. This is the first time we are witnessing so many cases of chikungunya in Chandigarh, as it’s not so common in this region. What we see are mostly explosive outbreaks, as people who have not been infected before may have low immunity. Also, we now have more testing facilities, as compared to earlier, so more cases are being recorded. Chikungunya does not cause high morbidity but there could be complications if a patient has comorbidities, and prevention is very important.”
According to experts, chikungunya is caused by the female Aedes mosquitoes. It mainly affects muscle cells of the body and may cause excessive pain and swelling in the joints. The IE report quoted Dr Vikas Bhutani, Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, as saying that mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person who already has the virus. “Symptoms usually begin three to seven days after an infected mosquito bite,” he added. Dr Bhutani further cautioned, “Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until dengue is ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.”
With the increase in cases, here are chikungunya symptoms that you should be looking out for:
- Fever and joint pains
- Muscle pain
- Joint swelling, or rash
“Most patients feel better within a week. However, joint pain can be severe and disabling and may persist for weeks to months,” the report stated.
How to take care of yourself?
The report further sheds light on the things that one should do to avoid catching the virus. Quoting Dr Bhutani, the report further states that “there is currently no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat chikungunya virus infection”. “Protection is only by preventing mosquito bites,” he said, adding, “Take rest, lots of fluids, and medications such as acetaminophen or paracetamol to relieve symptoms of fever and joint pain.”
The IE report also quoted Professor Sanjay Jain, Head, Department of Internal Medicine, PGI, as saying that people should make sure their surroundings are clean. “Wear full sleeved clothes…and ensure there is no water stagnation in and around your home to prevent disease,” Professor Jain added.