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Key Information About Chikungunya

Overview

Chikungunya is a non-fatal, febrile disease that resembles dengue. Considered to be a major public health threat, this disease occurs especially in parts of Africa, India and southeastern Asia. Chikungunya virus causes clinical illness in 72-92 percent of infected human beings.

The name chikungunya is derived from the Makonde word meaning "that which bends up" in reference to the stooped posture developed as a result of the arthritic symptoms of the disease.

Chikungunya Virus

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Causes

Just like the most dreaded dengue, chikungunya is also a mosquito-borne viral disease.

Humans and other primates are the natural hosts for the chikungunya virus (CHIKV), which is an RNA virus that belongs to the alphavirus genus of the family Togaviridae.

The virus is spread to humans by the bite of an infected female Aedes species mosquito – Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus.

CHIKV can cause acute, sub-acute, and chronic disease.

Aedes Albopictus

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Symptoms

Chikungunya is rarely fatal, but the symptoms can be severe, long-lasting, and debilitating.

The disease shares some clinical signs with Zika, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where they are common.

Symptoms usually begin 3–7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain.

Other signs and symptoms may include fatigue, muscle pain, swollen joint, headache and rash.

Never take this painful disease lightly, because its symptoms can have long-term implications.

Rash Due to Chikungunya

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

People affected by the chikungunya fever would be unable to carry out normal activities for a long period, like they cannot lift or hold anything with hands, and also complain of joint pains.

— K Gopala Rathinam, Regional Entomologist, Tamil Nadu, India.

Diagnosis

VIDAS®Anti-CHIKUNGUNYA IgM and Anti-CHIKUNGUNYA IgG by bioMérieux, a world leader in the field of in vitro diagnostics, can detect Chikungunya infection during the acute phase and into the chronic phase.

Treatment

There is no real treatment for chikungunya. Most people get better on their own and recover completely.

Doctors recommend rest and prescribe medicines (like acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or paracetamol) that reduce fever and pain. It is important to drink plenty of fluids.

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In December 2022, research scientists in Oregon Health and Science University developed first-ever medication for the crippling joint pain that follows infection with the Chikungunya virus.

Described as a 2-pyrimidone small molecule inhibitor, the compound -- patent pending -- works by binding to the viral RNA polymerase through which viruses normally replicate.

By the end of 2027, the compound might undergo its first human testing.

Using the body’s own machinery to produce antibodies against chikungunya by using mRNA may be a powerful way to combat the virus.

— James Crowe Jr., MD, Director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center

Prevention

Valneva’s single-shot chikungunya vaccine candidate, VLA1553, offered a very high level of seroprotection in all adults, including the elderly, in March 2022.

In December 2022, Valneva moved a step closer to its goal of becoming the first company to file for approval of a vaccine against chikungunya virus in the USA after reporting new clinical data.

The French biotech said VLA1553 met its objective in the phase 3 study, with 99 percent of patients exhibiting an antibody response against the virus 12 months after receiving a single dose of the shot, with no evidence of a tailing off in levels in the last six months.

That sets up a rolling Biologics License Application with the FDA by the end of the year, setting the company on course to bring the first chikungunya vaccine to market anywhere in the world.

Keep proper hygiene around. Cover the nose while sneezing. Stay protected from mosquitoes. Use mosquito repellents.

Sporadic rain results in waterlogging in several places that turn into breeding grounds for Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.

Stop water stagnation. Keep the skin covered as much as possible. Wear full sleeve clothes all the time.

In May 2019, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis snapped high-resolution pictures of chikungunya virus latched onto a protein found on the surface of cells in the joints. This is an important milestone in chikungunya research.

In July 2022, with an aim to control vector-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Vector Control Research Center (VCRC) developed two Aedes aegypti colonies infected with wMel and wAlbB Wolbachia bacteria strains.

Use highly efficient insect repellent created by combining lemongrass and eucalyptus oil.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Chikungunya is a febrile disease.
    • True
    • False
  2. Chikungunya is a fatal disease.
    • True
    • False
  3. Chikungunya is caused by a ________
    • Fungus
    • Bacteria
    • Virus
  4. Chikungunya virus is spread to humans by the bite of _______
    • Cockroach
    • Ant
    • Housefly
    • Mosquito
  5. Chikungunya virus is a ____ virus.
    • RNA
    • DNA

Answer Key

  1. True
  2. False
  3. Virus
  4. Mosquito
  5. RNA

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R

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