Parents, you need to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of Chikungunya and how to protect your family from having the disease.
What can you read in this article?
- What is Chikungunya?
- 8 common symptoms of Chikungunya you need to watch out for
- 3 tips to prevent having Chikungunya
The rainy season is upon us and we should be doing our part when it comes to protecting our kids from certain diseases, especially the ones involving mosquitoes such as Chikungunya.
What is Chikungunya?
Chikungunya virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Outbreaks have occurred in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. There is a risk that the virus will be imported to new areas by infected travelers. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat chikungunya virus infection. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.
How is it transmitted?
The most common way of transmission is when a mosquito bites an infected person, then goes on to bite another one. The usual culprits for this are the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, the same mosquitoes that transmit dengue virus. They can bite during the day and even at night.
On rare cases, Chikungunya virus can also be transmitted from the mother to the newborn at birth or through a blood transfusion, although there are no known reports of the latter happening.
Should I be worried?
Most people recover fully, with symptoms resolving in three to 10 days. For some people, joint pain may continue for months, or even years. Death from complications of chikungunya is very rare, but the virus sometimes causes severe problems, mostly in older adults with other chronic illnesses.
If you are an older adult or have a condition such as diabetes or heart disease, you’re at increased risk of severe disease so avoid traveling to areas with ongoing Chikungunya outbreaks.
People who have been infected once are likely to be protected from future infections. Although some of the symptoms Of Chikungunya aren’t that serious, we should still try to avoid contracting it.
Picture from Pexels.
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8 Signs and symptoms of Chikungunya
After the bite of an infected mosquito, the onset of illness usually occurs 4-8 days later (but can range from 2-12 days).
The symptoms in infected individuals are usually mild and the infection may go unrecognized or may be misdiagnosed. The symptoms can also be similar to other viruses that are spread by insects.
In areas where there is co-circulation, Chikungunya can often be misdiagnosed as dengue. But unlike dengue, however, Chikungunya rarely progresses to become life-threatening.
Here are the symptoms of Chikungunya that you should watch out for:
- Most people infected with the chikungunya virus will develop some symptoms.
- Symptoms usually begin 3–7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
- The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain.
- Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.
- Chikungunya disease does not often result in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling.
- Most patients feel better within a week. In some people, the joint pain may persist for months.
- People at risk for more severe disease include newborns infected around the time of birth, adults ages 65 and over, and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.
- Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
If you’re unsure whether you or someone in your family is displaying or experiencing symptoms of Chikungunya, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor about it. She might request for blood samples to confirm whether you have Chikungunya or not.
Treatment for Chikungunya
Currently, there is no specific antiviral drug treatment for Chikungunya. Instead, the focus of clinical management is to relieve the symptoms of Chikungunya by advising the patient to do the following:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Take medicine such as acetaminophen or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain.
- Refrain from taking aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.
- If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, consult your healthcare provider first before taking additional medication.
If you have Chikungunya, prevent mosquito bites for the first week of your illness. It’s also best to isolate yourself or make sure that there are no mosquitoes at home to prevent the spread of the virus to other people.
Because during the first week of infection, the Chikungunya virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites.
3 ways to protect your family from Chikungunya
Picture from Unsplash.
As mentioned earlier, there is no available vaccine to prevent Chikungunya. So the best way to avoid contracting this disease is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. And you really need to be careful because once someone in your family gets Chikungunya, there is a higher possibility of transmission.
Here are some ways that you can ward off these pesky bloodsuckers:
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent external with one of the active ingredients below. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
Do not spray the repellent on skin under clothing and reapply if needed.
When using insect repellent on your child, always follow the label instructions and avoid applying on a child’s hands (which he might put inside his mouth), eye and mouth area, cuts or irritated skin. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children below 3 years old.
When going outdoors, best to dress your child in clothing that covers his arms and legs. You can also use 0.5% permethrin to treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
Permethrin is an insecticide that kills bugs and insects like cockroaches, fleas and mosquitoes. Permethrin-treated clothing provides protection after multiple washings.
However, remember to refrain from using permethrin products directly on skin, don’t spray on your underwear, never apply permethrin to your clothes while you’re wearing them, and don’t apply permethrin indoors, where you could risk inhaling it.
You can also go the traditional route and just use mosquito netting. If you’re taking baby out for a walk, cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
Don’t attract mosquitoes into your home.
The best way to prevent mosquitoes and other insects from entering your home is to keep your surroundings clean.
Mosquitoes breed in dirty water, so once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers. Also check for water-holding containers both indoors and outdoors.
Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outdoors.
CDC, WHO, MAYO CLINIC
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