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Doctors allay fears over chikungunya

Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

`CHIKV infection is not fatal'


  • KGMOA says no drug treatment needed
  • Stresses on vector-control measures

    PATHANAMTHITTA: The Kerala Government Medical Officers' Association (KGMOA) has termed the `scare' among the public on the reported outbreak of chikungunya fever in the State ``simply unfounded.''

    Taking to The Hindu on Friday, KGMOA State president Sunny P. Orathel and secretary Junej Rehman said there was no need to panic over the reported outbreak of the fever in some parts of the State as ``no death has been directly attributed to chikungunya virus (CHIKV) infection.''

    Health Department sources said 150 cases of severe fever with arthralgia and chikungunya-like symptoms had been reported from different parts of the district, especially the Upper Kuttanad reaches of Chathankary, Niranom, Nedumpram, Peringara and Kadapra. However, no case had been confirmed as that of CHIKV infection, so far.

    District Medical Officer D. Damodaran told The Hindu that the department had sent 70 serum samples collected from different parts of the district to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in Delhi for detailed examination. The department had also launched conventional vector-control programmes such as spraying of insecticides and fogging in disease-prone areas, besides various awareness programmes.

    Delivering the keynote address at a seminar on chikungunya, organised by the KGMOA in Thiruvalla on Thursday, Sunil Mathew, physician, Thiruvalla government hospital, said the disease could never be fatal in human beings as per available scientific data.

    Dr. Mathew, who has done several studies on arthropod-borne diseases, said chikungunya was a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes, mainly by the species such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.

    The symptoms included sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, low back pain, rash and joint pain. The symptoms were similar to that of dengue fever. But unlike dengue fever where there was hemorrhagic or shock syndrome, chikungunya was always self-limited and rarely fatal. Arthalgia and rash were less likely to occur in CHIKV-infected children, but there would be headache, upper respiratory infection, injected pharynx and gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting.

    The Aedes aegypti mosquito was primarily a daytime feeder and mainly bit in the morning or late in the afternoon in covered areas. It preferred to lay its eggs in artificial containers that had fairly clean water and were located around human habitation.

    Dr. Mathew said no specific drug treatment or vaccines were available against the infection. He said the best way to avoid CHIKV infection was to prevent mosquito bites.

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