Chikungunya: All you need to know!

Friday, 23/09/2016

Chikungunya is an infection that is carried by a human which is transmitted between humans by mosquitoes. For a long time Chikun-gunya was identified as dengue due to the similarity in symptoms. This disease was first detected in 1952 in Makonde Plateau, which is the border area between Mozambique and Tanzania. This name of Chikungunya actually meant “that which bends up” which was derived from a Makonde word.

This was in reference to the stooped posture of the patient as a result of the joint pain which was a symptom of this disease. In Swahili language, the word Chikungunya means “the illness of the bended walker”. Generally authors have overlooked the Makonde language and assumed that the term was derived from Swahili, which was the language of the region.


Initially, this illness was limited to Africa and India where Aedes Aegypti was considered the mosquito causing this disease. But due to shifts in the geographical occurrence of this disease a second vector was also infected to this disease. Aedes Albopitcus, natively from Asia can also cause this fever. Generally an outbreak of fever occurs after a period of heavy rain that leads to pooling of water where the Aedes mosquitoes breed.


Chikungunya fever weakens the body and in some cases it can also be life – threatening, the meaning of the word in translation literal-ly means ‘to bend up’ and that is what this disease does. This word is from Tanzania in the language Makonde. The symptoms begin to show up within 3 – 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The symptoms as early said resemble those of dengue, like sudden fever, headache, chills, nausea, vomiting, severe join and muscle pain. While many of these symptoms start disappearing after a period of 10 days, joint pain may continue for a few weeks or month. This joint pain can be chronic but only 10 – 12 % patients suffer from such cases.

Two medical reports that were published in 1955 identified and described this disease. After the first outbreak of Chikungunya in Ma-konde Island in 1952, this disease was detected in Sri Lanka in 1969, 1975 in Vietnam and Myanmar, 1982 in Indonesia. In 2007/2008, this infection spread to South Asian Countries like Pakistan and Maldives. By this time cases of this infection was also reported from Italy, Singapore and Australia.

Currently, cases of Chikungunya have been reported in Benin, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, East Timor, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mayotte, Myanmar, Ni-geria, Pakistan, Philippines, Reunion, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.


Chikungunya outbreak in India first occurred in 2006. Cases were reported widely from all over the subcontinent. The maximum cases were from Maharashtra though there were no deaths. In 2007, the maximum cases of Chikungunya were reported in Kerala. The cases started disappearing from 2008.

According to the current scenario of the subcontinent, it seems that Chikungunya is increasingly affecting the population. This time around, the hardest HIT seems to be Delhi where they are many reported deaths due to Chikungunya. The Delhi Government is now taking initiatives to prevent their people from Chikungunya.

Interestingly, it re-appeared after 32 years of being stagnant, In 2006, the outbreaks were reported at a staggering 1.26 million approx suspected cases. Currently the toll is growing, until August, 2016, 12,255 cases of chikungunya had been reported in India – Just a notch less than half of the total amount which was of 2015 entire year, which is staggering. There have been 28 thousand approx cases of dengue and 60 deaths because of dengue haemorrhagic fever.

The year 2015 had seen 99,913 dengue cases with 220 deaths. They are being called the twins which are attacking our country with an ever increasing percentage each year.

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