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How to avoid getting infected by the chikungunya virus

Here's what you need to know about chikungunya, and how to prevent being infected by the virus.

Written by Soumya Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: August 31, 2016 8:53:46 pm
chikungunya, chikungunya prevention, chikungunya in delhi, chikungunya dengue in delhi, chikungunya dengue, chikungunya infection, chikungunya infection prevention, chikungunya and dengue prevention tips, dengue chikungunya prevention measures, how to prevent chikungunya, how to recover easily from chikungunya Aedes mosquitoes are known to infect people with chikungunya and dengue. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

With heavy downpours in the Capital and other regions, mosquitoes are thriving with each passing day resulting in more and more people falling prey to diseases such as chikungunya and dengue. Just like in every monsoon season, the number of people infected by the diseases have increased. Both chikungunya and dengue are viral diseases that are transmitted by the Aedes mosquitoes. Symptoms of both the diseases happen to be similar yet, there are some key differences that set them apart, which if not detected and treated on time, might prove fatal for your health.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Dr Ashok Dalal, physician at Primus Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi, explained at length about the symptoms, preventive measures and ways to take care when infected with chikungunya.

What is chikungunya?

It is an illness contracted by the bite of Aedes mosquitoes, the cases of which increase especially in monsoons — the time when the blood-sucking parasites thrive the most. According to reports, more than 400 cases of chikungunya were recorded in the Capital in just one week.

What are the symptoms of chikungunya?

According to Dr Dalal, the main symptoms of chikungunya are high fever, pain in the joints, rash and in some cases, even swelling of the joints. Although the symptoms are subjective and varies from one person to the other, these are the most common symptoms. But these are very similar to that of dengue as well, making it difficult to detect the illness especially at earlier stages, said Dr Dalal. “In chikungunya, joints pain is more pronounced, while in cases of dengue, patients might even feel retro-orbital pain, that is, pain behind the eyes,” he said. Other than this, the symptoms for both mosquito bite-borne diseases are the same.

How is chikungunya detected?

Although it is clinically difficult to detect in initial stages, there are blood tests that detect the exact nature of the disease. Detection of NS1 Antigen and IgM Chikungunya antibodies are the tests that should be conducted to detect the illnesses.

What are the preventive measures for avoiding chikungunya?

The only way to avoid chikungunya is to not get bitten by the mosquitoes, said Dr Dalal. “One has to be especially careful during the day, because that is when the Aedes mosquito is the most active.” he added. The physician advised people to be fully covered when going out, use mosquito repellent creams and ensure there is no stagnant water left uncovered near by. “Change the water at least once a week,” he said.

What are the measures to recover properly from chikungunya?

Dr Dalal specifically advised to only take Paracetamol tablets for high fever — chikungunya’s most prominent symptom. He explained that when affected with viral fever, the body’s platelet count becomes lower than normal and taking any other tablets like Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) for fever might lead to bleeding. But in case of chikungunya, after the first three days consumption of other tablets are considered safe, he said.

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