For long, people have been confusing dengue with chikungunya. However, two are different from each other. The virus responsible for dengue is a flaviviridae flavivirus. Chikungunya, on the other hand, is brought about by a togaviridae alphavirus. The vector (an organism that acts as a natural carrier or host for viruses) for both the viral diseases remain the same, the female aedes aegypti mosquito, and to a lesser extent, the aedes albopictus mosquito. The chikungunya virus can also be spread through birds, cattle, and monkey.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms vary depending on the severity of the fever. In most cases, the symptoms appear 6-7 days after the mosquito bite.
In case of a mild dengue fever, there is:
1. High fever and a severe headache
2. Muscular and joint pain
3. Nausea and vomiting
4. Rashes on the body (keep disappearing and reappearing)
5. There is a retro-orbital pain
If left unread. ted, the condition can aggravate, resulting in dengue hemorrhagic fever. The symptoms include
1. Decreased platelets count.
2. Nose bleeding or bleeding from the mouth.
3. Blood and lymph vessels get damaged.
4. Black vomit and passing of black stool due to internal bleeding.
5. Pulse rate weakens.
6. Blood spots appear under the skin.
7. Skin gets sticky and sweaty.
In the worst scenario, a fatal condition referred to as dengue shock syndrome may result in:
1. A rapid fall in blood pressure (Hypotension)
2. Excruciating stomach ache
3. Regular vomiting and heavy bleeding are common
4. The body gets disoriented
5. Extreme weakness
6. Fluids leak out from the blood vessels
7. In extreme cases, the fever can result in death
In the case of chikungunya, the symptoms appear 4-7 days after the mosquito bite and include
2. Skin rashes
3. Severe headache
4. Muscle and joint pain
The joint pain is a defining factor in chikungunya. The pain may last a few days, weeks or even months (3-6 months). In chronic cases, the severity and the duration of the pain linger for long.
1. A blood test is one of the most important steps in the diagnosis of dengue. A positive test confirms the presence of the dengue virus
2. The symptoms are also critical. A proper assessment of the symptoms will make the diagnosis more accurate
1. The patient’s blood sample is tested for the presence of the chikungunya virus
2. RT-PCR (Reverse Transcriptase-Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests are commonly carried out in laboratories to detect the presence of viral RNA
Dengue and chikungunya being viral diseases, there is no specific treatment available
1. However, in the case of high fever, a patient is given paracetamol (normally given after the first 2-3 days)
2. Anti-inflammatory, nonsteroidal drugs and painkillers (non-aspirin-based) are given to provide relief from joint pain
3. Intravenous drips and blood transfusions may be helpful in case of severe dehydration
A little alertness will aid in preventing dengue and chikungunya effectively. Most importantly, one should avoid getting mosquito bites
1. Take care of personal hygiene. Keep your immediate environment as clean as possible
2. Open water spaces and stagnant water are ideal breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquito. Overhead tanks and reservoirs should be kept well covered. Turn over the buckets and bathtubs after use
3. Mosquito fogging is an important step to prevent the spread of dengue and chikungunya
4. In the case of a cooler, the water tray should be cleaned and emptied every day
5. Do not allow rainwater to accumulate and stagnate in close vicinity
6. It is best to get your doors and windows mosquito proofed (mosquito screens)
7. Use clothes washed or treated with permethrin. Wear clothes that expose minimum body parts (long sleeved tops, long pants, and jeans). Wear socks and keep your legs covered
8. Use of mosquito repellents and mosquito nets can protect you from mosquito bites
Many effective natural remedies and repellents are available to ward off the mosquitoes
1. Camphor magic: Camphor is one of the most effective mosquito repellents. Close all the doors and windows and burn camphor in the room. For better results, leave the room in that state for 15-20 minutes.
2. Garlic power: Garlic is a strong mosquito repellent. For a mosquito free house, boil a few cloves of crushed garlic in water. Next, sprinkle this water throughout the house.
3. Neem to the rescue: Neem is a potent weapon against mosquitoes. A mixture of coconut oil and neem oil (in 1:1 ratio) is all that is needed to protect your house from mosquitoes.
4. Tulsi: Tulsi leaves are a great way to get rid of the mosquitoes naturally. All you need to do is place a tulsi plant near the window.
5. Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil is a powerful mosquito repellent. A mixture of tea tree oil and coconut oil can be successfully applied on the skin to ward off the mosquitoes. Alternately, adding a few drops (5-6 drops) of the oil to the vaporizer will also bear fruitful results.
Also, Lavender (a mixture of water and lavender oil), mint (both the extract and mint oil), citronella oil, and eucalyptus and lemongrass oil are powerful natural mosquito repellents.