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Chikungunya Virus

The onset of the monsoon season reminds a lot of people of chikungunya virus. Chikungunya fever in humans is accompanied by severe and persistent joint pains, fever and rash. The vector is an infected female tiger mosquito, the species called Aedes aegypti, which breeds in stagnant water and bites during the early morning and late afternoons.

Chikungunya Virus

The Aedes aegypti is responsible for the transmission of the chikungunya virus. Dengue, and other common mosquito-borne diseases including Yellow Fever can also be transmitted by the Aedes aegypti. However, chikungunya virus is rarely fatal, although it can cause significant economic loss and psychological and physical ill-health. chikungunya virus

The symptoms of the disease chikungunya range from mild fever and chills to high fever, accompanied by nausea, vomiting, severe joint pain and a rash. The symptoms can resemble malaria or dengue. Symptoms occur between 3-12 days after infection and the the fever lasts for about 7 days.

This strange joint pain illness may take several weeks or even months to go away, but prompt medical attention can help avoid further complications. There is no specified treatment for chikungunya. although anti-inflammatory drugs and rest help to lessen the pain and the fever.

Total relief from chikungunya depends on prolonged and persistent anti-inflammatory therapy. Ayurveda presents alternative treatment in the form of remedies like amritarishta, vilvadi gulika and sudarshanam gulika which stop fever and Punarvasa, the pressing of small, warm cloth bags filled with rice bran that relieve joint pain and swelling.

Prevention is always better than cure, so make sure you wear clothing that covers your arms and legs and is preferably of a light colour, because dark colours tend to attract mosquito. It pays to use mosquito coils, electric vapour distributors and repellents even during the day time.

Health authorities recommend staying indoors in the monsoon season to help avoid large-scale epidemics of arthritic problems arising from chikungunya fever, although this is just not possible for the poor.

Using mosquito nets and curtains that have been treated with permethrin helps to repel and even kill mosquitoes and may prevent outbreaks of chikungunya virus or an epidemic in a region.

The use of insecticide sprays especially in closets, bedrooms, kitchens, crevices, bathrooms and other nooks and crannies helps. The use of mosquito / fly screen on doors and windows helps prevent mosquito bites indoors. If you have a garden, it is a good preventive measure to cut weeds and tall grass that might provide shady hiding spaces for mosquitoes.

It is significant to note that Aedes mosquitoes are responsible for transmission of chikungunya and that these mosquitoes breed in containers collecting rainwater like old oil drums, discarded tyres, flower-pots, water storage vessels, animal water troughs, and plastic food containers.

This can be prevented by draining water from cans, buckets, drums and barrels when they are not in use and removing or emptying plant saucers on a regular basis.

Most conscientious public health authorities will give advice, when asked, so cooperation with these authorities is a necessity if you want to implement anti-mosquito measures.

The role of public health authorities lies in strengthening and effectively implementing the prevention and control of mosquito-borne diseases like chikungunya virus, malaria and dengue. Furthermore, public education and awareness about the risk of transmission and ways to control chikungunya virus would help as an efficient measure of prevention.

 

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