Distinguising between dengue and chikungunya?

Wednesday, 21/09/2016

The onset of monsoons not just relieves people from the scorching July sun but also gives rise to a spiraling of diseases. Spiraling cases of both Dengue and Chikungunya have sent concerning alarming bells over the past many years.

The Genesis

• Historically, Chikungunya was referred to as Dengue. It was only after an outbreak of Chikungunya in Makonde Plateau, somewhere near Tanzania, that it was identified as a separate disease.
• Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease. It is spread by numerous species of the Aedes mosquito. Dengue has become a global cause of concern ever since the commencement of Second World War.
• Similarly, Chikungunya is an infection caused by the chikungunya virus. This virus is transferred by two species of the same Aedes type mosquitoes. Chikungunya virus was first isolated by RW Ross in 1953. In India, Chikungunya was never a bigger cause of concern than Dengue, especially in the northern India. However, in the year 2016, there has been an increase in the cases of chikungunya.

The Commonality
• Both Dengue and Chikungunya, being tropical fevers have much in common in terms of symptoms, the vectors, their incubation period, geographical distribution, etc.
• For example – Both of them are mosquito-borne viral diseases whose vectors are the species of the Aedes mosquito.
• Both the viral infections are characterized by similar signs such as high fever, headache, pain in the joints and eyes, rashes and lethargy. This is often confused with viral fever and malaria.

The Differences
Despite being quite similar, both the diseases are very much different. Due to sharing quite similar signs, it becomes difficult in identifying the exact problem. Some of the differences in both the viral infections are:
• Dengue and Chikungunya, though carried by the same mosquito type, but are caused by different viruses. While Chikungunya is caused by a Togaviridae alphavirus, Dengue is caused by a Flavirideae flavivirus.
• Dengue in the last few years has become more common and dangerous than Chikungunya. However, the joint pain associated with chikungunya can last for years.
• Dengue signs begin to show up within three to fourteen days after infection. Whereas, the signs of Chikungunya begin to show up with the sudden onset of fever within two to four days after exposure.
• The incubation period of Chikungunya is of 1-12 days and the duration varies from one to two weeks. However, signs such as joint pain be for a long time. The incubation period for dengue is of 3-7 weeks while it stays from about four to seven weeks.
• Swelling and pain is high in Chikungunya as compared to that in Dengue.
• Chikungunya can create the possibilities of tremendous joint pain. Whereas Dengue can cause bleeding in some cases, breathing problems, etc.
• Dengue has become more common than chikungunya and is more dangerous.

The Key is prevention. Use insect repellents.
There are a few key things you should know before! 

• Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol provide long-lasting protection.

• If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.

• Do not spray repellent on the skin under your clothing.

• Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing.

• Always follow the label instructions when using insect repellent or sunscreen.

• Remember to either keep a coil on or spray aerosol to kill the mosquito.

• While spraying, do make sure to get every corner of your surroundings, as mosquitoes prefer to hide in all nooks and crannies.

• Keep a net handy if you are travelling and need to sleep.