Chikungunya was first identified in early 1952 in Tanzania and has caused periodic outbreaks in Asia and Africa in the 1960s.
Based on World Health Organization (WHO) data, chikungunya has been documented to more than 40 countries worldwide.
In the Philippines chikungunya outbreaks coincide with dengue season during the rainy months, according to Department of Health (DOH).
Chikungunya is a viral disease that is spread by infected mosquitoes. The term originated from a verb in the Kimakonde language that means “to become contorted.”
The virus is transmitted from human to human by bites of infected mosquitoes. Most commonly, the mosquitoes involved are Aedes aegypti, which happened to be the carrier of dengue virus and Aedes albopictus.
Symptoms of chikungunya include fever and severe joint pains, often in the hands and feet, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash. There is no vaccine or medication to prevent chikungunya. It is usually begin 3‒7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Here are a few tips to protect:
- When outdoors, use insect repellant with DEET as an active product on any exposed skin.
- Make sure all windows and doors in your home, or in your home-away-from-home while traveling, are closed tightly and that screens are well-sealed to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to reduce the amount of skin exposed
- Empty standing water from outdoor containers
Since there is no specific vaccine or preventive drug for the disease, treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms. It is also advisable to strengthen one’s immune system by having proper diet and a healthy lifestyle.