Chikungunya is a viral infection characterized by sudden onset of fever and joint pain. This virus attacks and infects humans through the bite of the Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes , two types of mosquitoes that are also known to cause dengue fever.
According to data from the Indonesian Ministry of Health, there were 5,042 cases of chikungunya in Indonesia throughout 2019. Of these cases, 1,044 cases occurred in West Java province, followed by Lampung with 829 cases, and Gorontalo with 534 cases. However, until now there have been no reports of deaths from chikungunya.
Causes of Chikungunya
Chikungunya is caused by the Chikungunya virus which is carried by the Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito . Both of these mosquitoes are types of mosquitoes that also transmit dengue fever and the Zika virus . Generally, these mosquitoes bite during the day and night.
The Aedes mosquito gets the Chikungunya virus when it bites someone who has been infected before. Transmission occurs when another person is bitten by a mosquito carrying the chikungunya virus. However, the chikungunya virus is only transmitted by mosquitoes and does not spread directly between humans.
Chikungunya can strike anyone. However, the risk of developing this disease is higher in newborns, people aged 65 years and over, and people with other medical conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease .
Symptoms of Chikungunya
In some cases, chikungunya does not cause any symptoms. However, most sufferers experience symptoms that appear within 3–7 days after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. These symptoms generally include:
- Fever up to 39°C
- A reddish rash
- Muscle and joint pain
- Bone pain
- Swollen joints
In general, the above symptoms will improve within 1 week. However, in some patients, joint pain can last for months. In addition, although very rare, severe symptoms of chikungunya can also cause temporary paralysis .
When to see a doctor
Immediately consult a doctor if you experience the symptoms as mentioned above, or if you have previously visited an area where there are many cases of chikungunya.
Don't delay seeing a doctor if you experience symptoms such as visual disturbances, abdominal pain, bleeding, decreased consciousness, severe pain, and swollen joints.
To diagnose chikungunya, the doctor will ask about the patient's symptoms and travel history. The doctor will also do a blood test to rule out the possibility that the symptoms are caused by other diseases, such as dengue fever .
To further confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will perform an ELISA ( enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays ) test. The ELISA test is a serological test used to check for the presence of chikungunya IgM and IgG antibodies. Generally, IgM antibody levels are very high 3–5 weeks after symptoms appear and can last up to 2 months.
Chikungunya does not require special treatment, because it will heal on its own. In most cases, the symptoms of the disease will subside within 1–2 weeks. However, joint pain can last for months or even years.
Chikungunya treatment is only to relieve the symptoms of this disease. Your doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or bone flu medications , such as paracetamol, ibuprofen , or naproxen, to relieve joint pain and fever. In addition, patients will also be advised to drink plenty of water and get enough rest.
To prevent bleeding, do not take aspirin or non -steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) before your doctor confirms that the symptoms you are experiencing are not symptoms of dengue fever. In addition, consult your doctor first if you are undergoing treatment for other conditions.
Complications of Chikungunya
In rare cases, chikungunya can cause dangerous complications, such as:
- Inflammation of the uvea of the eye ( uveitis )
- Inflammation of the retina of the eye (retinitis)
- Inflammation of the heart muscle ( myocarditis )
- Inflammation of the kidneys (nephritis)
- Inflammation of the liver ( hepatitis )
- Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
- Inflammation of one segment of the spinal cord (myelitis)
- Arthritis ( rheumatism ) or worsening of pre-existing arthritis
- Guillain-Barré syndrome , a disorder of the nervous system that can cause paralysis)
Chikungunya prevention is carried out by reducing the risk of mosquito bites , one of which is by eradicating mosquito nests (PSN) through 3M Plus actions, namely:
- Drain the water reservoir
- Close the water storage
- Recycling used goods that can hold water
Meanwhile, the Plus (additional) actions that can be taken to help 3M are:
- Sprinkling abate powder on the water reservoir
- Keeping fish that eat mosquito larvae
- Use mosquito repellent
- Installing mosquito nets on windows and house ventilation
- Plant mosquito repellent plants
- Stop the habit of hanging clothes in open spaces
- Repairing water channels that are not smooth
- Work together to clean up the environment
If you plan to travel to a chikungunya endemic area, take the following additional precautions:
- Using anti-mosquito lotion containing N, N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET) regularly
- Wear long sleeves and long pants all the time
- Use mosquito nets while sleeping, especially during the day
- Using mosquito repellent