MANY of my Filipino patients coming to Zulekha Hospital, Dubai are asking one common question, “Doctor ano po ang Chikungunya fever?” This query is based on the latest Health news which is beleaguering our Kabayans in Antique, Philippines who are the latest victims of an outbreak of Chikungunya fever. As of date more than 300 individuals are affected by the said virus according to the latest DOH bulletin.
Chikungunya fever is a viral disease transmitted by a mosquito bite. The vectors of this disease are the same with Dengue fever namely Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus. The symptoms start 2-12 days after being bitten by this mosquito which starts with fever, followed by body malaise, appearance of rashes, headache, photophobia, partial loss of taste and most peculiarly Joint pains which are severe.
Age plays an important role as younger patients have faster recovery as compared to adults with regards to recovery from joint pains which may last from months to years and can be debilitating. The disease in general is not considered to be fatal unlike Dengue fever which can cause extreme bleeding and hemorrhage. This disease was first discovered in Tanzania, Africa in 1952 and since then has caused several outbreaks in Asia, Africa, India and even Latin America.
Diagnosis is based on history and specific signs and symptoms most importantly is the appearance of swollen joints affecting the mobility of an affected individual . Blood tests to confirm the virus is available only in higher centers like the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. Currently there is no specific treatment for this disease and it is just merely supportive. Vaccines are not also available at this point in time.
The main preventive measure is to eliminate breeding places of mosquitoes, The use of mosquito nets, mosquito repellants and most importantly maintain healthy habits to strengthen the immune system. This virus also has distribution in the Middle East based on the World Health Organization mapping thus it is wise to be vigilant and seek consultation in the presence of fever, rash and severe joint pains. Salamat po!
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