(From the Desk of the Vector Control Director, Dr Reyaud Rahman)
Chikungunya has affected many countries worldwide and has spread like wildfire throughout them. Those most affected have the conditions conducive for this disease to progress and thrive. The types of mosquitoes which spread this disease are abundant in local environments and homes.
Our surroundings therefore allow these mosquitoes to breed freely without being hampered or affected and we often do not protect ourselves adequately enough to prevent being bitten.
This virus presents in different stages and affects individuals as such. The stages are known as an acute phase and a chronic phase. Some studies even mentioned a sub-acute phase. The acute phase generally last for about 10 days and then resolves. This period commonly last for one to two weeks before there is a very common relapse and symptoms return. If there is a sub-acute phase, patients generally have symptoms for four weeks to twelve weeks and then symptoms commonly resolve in some patients. After this acute phase, if symptoms still are present this is known as the chronic phase.
It is noted that in Guyana persons have experienced the relapse period of this disease after the acute phase; this is brought on by factors such as excessive exercise or exacerbation and exposure to cold weather mostly. The chronic stage of this disease can severely deteriorate a patient’s quality of life for months. The joints in the hands, knees and tendons will be mostly affected and impact the individual’s life tremendously and could result in persons requiring prolonged sick leave.
This disease stage will more likely affect persons over 40 years of age mostly with underlying conditions like arthritis or persons who have been involved in serious accidents (traumatic diseases).
Not all persons infected with Chikungunya develop symptoms. Approximately 90 to 95 percent of persons develop symptoms. When symptoms do present, they occur abruptly and last for about a week before resolving. In the chronic stage of the disease, 30 to 40 percent of patients experience mostly joint pain. Deaths from Chikungunya virus remain rare and mostly affect those over 65 years of age with underlying medical conditions.
If individuals have had a relapse of the Chikungunya virus they should use Panadol for fever, Ibuprofens (or other NSAID’s prescribed by their doctor), drink over two litres of fluids daily (water, coconut water etc.), rest and do not do strenuous exercise or work. These recommendations will assist with a speedy recovery and decrease further discomfort and pain to the affected individual.