Even as the capital has reported five ‘chikungunya deaths’ this season, the mortality rate due to the mosquito-borne infection is usually low, said doctors.
Warning signs: According to doctors, while serious complications are not common, the disease may contribute to the cause of death for older patients. Most patients recover fully, though they may suffer from joint pain for several months and, in some cases, years. In a few cases, complications related to eyes, brain and heart, as well as gastrointestinal complaints, have been reported. Some patients who have been tested for chikungunya have also reported severe sight impairment due to inflammation of the optic nerve.
Complications: The disease may also result in cardiovascular complications, when the heart is unable to maintain adequate blood circulation. Neurological complications may include seizures, inflammation of the brain, drowsiness and muscle weakness, said doctors.
“Even if the patient develops complications, if he is diagnosed at an early stage and is treated accordingly, the chances of death due to chikungunya are low,” said a senior doctor at AIIMS.
Diagnosis: Serological tests — such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) — may confirm the presence of IgM and IgG anti-chikungunya antibodies. According to WHO, samples collected during the first week after the onset of symptoms should be tested by both serological and virological methods (RT-PCR). IgM antibody levels are highest three to five weeks after the onset of illness and persist for about two months.