What makes Chikungunya special is that there are no known medicines to cure it (at least in the English medicine system). As a first defense, you will always hear people speak of Chikungunya precautions; and if someone gets affected, complete bed-rest is the only cure.
But before we dive into the various ways to prevent Chikungunya, let me tell you how I came across this terrifying phenomenon.
We have lots of mosquitoes in and around the house making us forget about the pets we never had. Mosquitoes really don’t unhygienic environment to live and breed. Our area is neat and there are no waters or clogged drainages. Somehow, they manage to breed comfortably in this tropical climate. When I landed in my native town, that night I saw my father with a yellow coloured but small tennis racquet. I found that funny when I saw him swaying it in a new fashion. Then my mother explained it to me that it was a mosquito bat which could burn mosquitoes if they came into contact with the racquet. How’s that for an invention for prevention of Chikungunya?!
In 2007, a plague named Chikungunya ravaged and ransacked the innocent green streets of Kerala killing around 200 people. The name and the disease was unknown to many and only very few of the Keralites knew of the viral fever detected in 1955 in Africa. Chikungunya, we read apprehensively is caused by an alphavirus and is spread by the bite of Aedes and Culex mosquitoes. Well, we did not know about the alphavirus nor could we recognise the Aedes and Culex mosquitoes. And this did not make things any easier. Whoever had fever in the rainy season was worried and doctors provided information on the symptoms of Chikungunya.
- Chikungunya will have high fever and chills
- Joint pain with or without swelling (arthritis or arthralgia), especially in the knee, ankle and wrists
- Headache and low back pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mild hemorrhaging may be present in children
The symptoms are like dengue fever without its hemorrhagic or shock syndrome form. They may last for a few weeks causing discomfort and concern. It is relatively non-fatal and is not transmitted from one human to another and there are no vaccines! But just imagine: All this can be avoided using simple precautionary measures!
Precautions and care to prevent Chikungunya
Chikungunya terrorizes India and the Indian ocean islands, especially during the rainy season. You may take extra caution to keep the Chikungunya virus away as you travel in the infected area. Always remember: Preventing Chikungunya is much, much easier than curing it.
- Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Try to use mosquito nets at home as you sleep in the night. As you go out in the day time be careful to keep yourself protected with an insect repellent. Keep one handy for reapplication.
- Keep the area clean! Do not let the water remain stagnant for anybody to come and breed and destroy your precious lives. If you let containers remain outside to collect rain water and forget them they may accommodate a few eggs too. Overturn them in your yard or close them with a lid.
- Foreign adults can use insect repellent with a minimum concentration of 30% DEET. This might be uncommon in Asia but as a traveler you may choose the local ones available. Consult your doctor for the recommendations for children.
- Wear light colored clothing that covers most of the body. Wear cool cotton in India!
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