Health Alert(7) : This Thing Called Chikungunya

This is not a take-off from Abba or the name of a Japanese fruit(!), but is the latest in a series of diseases caused by a virus and spread by mosquitoes. While most of us were distracted by events of the world, this disease has steadily made its impact, not only in tropical regions but also in far-flung countries like Italy. In Malaysia alone, in 2008, more than 3700 cases have occurred. It used to have an incidence of 100 cases per year but this has now risen to 100  cases per week. Strangely enough, mainstream media has been deafeningly quiet and the health authorities have not done enough to educate the public on this relatively unknown condition.

Chikungunya (pronounced chi-koon-goo-nya) is but the latest in a long line of diseases carried by mosquitoes, which include Malaria, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, and the West Nile Encephalitis and causing 1 million deaths worldwide.

chikungunya

The disease  causes an illness with symptoms similar to dengue fever. CHIKV manifests itself initially with fever, rashes, bodyaches,headaches and lethargy which lasts only two to five days, followed by a prolonged period of joint pains. The pain associated with Chikungunya infection of the joints persists for weeks or months and can be confused for severe forms of arthritis.

Morbidity is high but mortality low…in other words, while people can get sick for weeks, they will invariably recover; and death is very rare. The latter could very well be the cause of why there appears to be some complacency in promoting health prevention. One needs to note, however, that with the mobility of people nowadays, this disease is no longer confined to the tropics but has been known to occur in Italy,UK and the USA.

Read more about this disease here and here.

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9 responses

  1. You’re right/ There’s low awareness of this disease. I only learned of it when two acquaintances were hospitalized. The Malaysian govt should target the school children in terms of information and education on chikunkunya, and highlight it in the newspapers.

  2. […] states: Chikungunya (pronounced chikoon-goon-nya). Doctor2008's Weblog writes about this little-known virus: “(Its is) the latest in a series of diseases caused by a virus and spread by mosquitoes. While […]

  3. […] Blog は、このほとんど知られていないウイルスについてこう書いている。 […]

  4. […] from dengue fever, there is another virus that is spreading in several Malaysian states: chikungunya. According to a medical specialist, chikungunya is the latest in a long line of diseases carried by […]

  5. […] from dengue fever, there is another virus that is spreading in several Malaysian states: chikungunya. According to a medical specialist, chikungunya is the latest in a long line of diseases carried by […]

  6. Mohammad Sayeed | Reply

    Why is it in KARNATAKA, INDIA this epidemic of CHIKUNGUNYS is recurring every year from 2006.

    Doctor2008 says: In my experience, this can be down to two factors, both of which are preventive measures: 1)inadequate health education among the public, and 2) inefficient drainage facilities.

  7. I’ve heard of chikungunya while I was/am working in Teluk Ramunia, Pengerang, Johor. My American & a local Msian colleague contracted this early this year. Unfortunately, I contracted this disease last month (27 September 2009) in Pusing (my hometown), Perak when I was back to attend my dad’s demise/funeral. The sickness did not arise until I was back in Teluk Ramunia on Wednesday, September 30/09. I woke up with whole bodyaches (until to the point of being unable to stand up from the bed without sitting for a while) and had to force myself to go to work. At about 10 am-ish, fever started and my face was all red/flushed. Went to the doctor and confirmed it was chikungunya. Red spots appeared from my neck to ankle. Fever was like a yoyo and subsided on Saturday, Oct 3/09. Red spots disappeared a week later. But the bodyaches (especially the joints and bones at the sole of the feet are painful) stay on and I was very concerned. My two colleagues told me that this will go on for about a few months; depends on our own body immune system! You are right that the Government Health Ministry needs to create more awareness of this non-deadly but very painful disease. At My Pusing hometown, the whole street where I lived, all the people all contracted this. In my own home, my two brothers, niece and nephew contracted it too. The strongest of us all i.e. my 75 year old mum did not contract this at all! Thank God for that.

    Doctor2008 adds: A classical case! Sorry about your dad, though.

  8. Lea Esterhuizen | Reply

    I contracted Chikungunya in Kolkata in December 2008. All the above-mentioned symptoms occurred, and as described by others above, the joint aches esp in hands and feet troubled me for approx 30 mins each morning until late into last year. I also experienced a recurrence of the nasty body rash several months later and currently have flashes of rash (raised red itchy spots on lower legs). I am wondering why others haven’t mentioned that symptoms can recur. This has certainly been my experience.

    Doctor2008 says: Thats an interesting set of experience you had. What made the joint pains go off eventually?

  9. Excellent article it is really. My boss has been waiting for this tips.

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