What is the Chikungunya Virus and How I Recovered from it


Article graphic by Guiseppe Hughes

Aysha, Contributing Writer

Malaria and dengue are one of the most common mosquito borne diseases. Besides malaria and dengue, chikungunya is also being detected in many parts of the world. It is rare compared to other mosquito borne diseases. It is found worldwide, particularly in Africa, Asia and India.

It was July 2017 when I had Chikungunya back in Bangladesh. The most dangerous outbreak of Chikungunya in Bangladesh was reported from April 2017 until September 2017. It started with knee and finger joint pains. Later, early in the morning I had fever which was about 102 degrees fahrenheit. Fever and joint pain lasted for two days and after that rashes appeared. I was fine after three days. I took basic medication such as paracetamol and took plenty of rest. The difference which I figured out was that Chikungunya fever causes severe joint pain more than other viral fevers. 

Due to having personal experience with this disease, I wanted to gain more insight about it. According to Uganda Virology Institute (UVRI), Chikungunya was first detected from a member of the Makonde tribe in Tanzania, Africa. This is where the virus got its name. In Makonde language “Chikungunya” means “bent over in pain”. It is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It is caused by the chikungunya virus (CHIKV). 

Medical professionals say that, after the bite of an infected mosquito, the illness usually occurs 4-8 days later. The most common symptoms include fever and joint pains. Fever usually starts at 102 degrees Fahrenheit. After 3-4 days of fever, rashes seem to appear. Muscle pain, headache, fatigue may also occur, but the disease itself is not fatal or contagious.

Medical experts concluded that there is no specific drug for the disease, but it is cured with supportive care. For example, by getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids to prevent dehydration and by taking paracetamol to reduce pain and fever.

Chikungunya causes severe joint pains, on the other hand, malaria and dengue do not cause severe joint pains. The pain might be long lasting. This is the reason why it is distinguished from other mosquito borne diseases. 

Statistical analysis shows that Chikungunya is endemic in Africa, Southeast Asia, and subtropical regions of the Americas. It also caused numerous endemics in Africa and Asia. As of 2017, about 1.8 million cases had been reported from 44 countries. According to a medical journal, “The most dangerous outbreaks of Chikungunya in Bangladesh occurred from April 2017 until September 2017”. So it is always wise to be aware of mosquitoes.