Chikungunya is a disease that people can catch if they are bitten by mosquitoes infected with the virus. It is rarely life-threatening, but it can cause immense suffering. It shares some symptoms with the much better-known disease malaria as well as the zika virus, which has been a focus of media attention over the past few years. Although it might be assumed that chikungunya is confined to some specific tropical countries where it has been known to occur, the World Health Organization’s statistics prove otherwise. These figures show that while the disease is much more prevalent in Africa and the Indian subcontinent, it also occurs in some sixty countries total, including the USA and nations of Western Europe.
Severe Joint Pain
Crippling pain in the joints is a principal chikungunya symptom. The illness’s unusual name comes from a word in an African language that describes somebody who becomes all twisted and bent in the face of severe pain. In this way, the name graphically describes its impact on patients. It is hard to know how long the pain will last. In the majority of cases, this pain continues for a couple of days, but it could easily last several weeks. There are also some case histories where joint pains continued over a few months, and in the most extreme cases, they could last for a few years.
Running a Fever
This classic symptom of so many different kinds of illnesses also characterizes the onset of chikungunya. If someone feels they were bitten by a mosquito and all of a sudden they start to run a fever, they should be checked for chikungunya. This fever may reach as high as 104 F (40 C) and last for a couple of days. Most commonly, the fever commences within about a week or so of the mosquito bite. Even if the individual’s illness follows this pattern, an accurate diagnosis is not so simple. If they live in an area where this disease is very rare, it increases the possibility of a wrong diagnosis. Its symptoms may easily get confused with malaria and other more familiar illnesses.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea is a symptom shared with a long list of other illnesses. In the first stages of chikungunya, patients often vomit. Apart from the unpleasantness, this can also bring on additional health problems. The effective functioning of the human body requires a regular intake of liquids and nutrients. It is particularly important to avoid becoming dehydrated with all of its associated health dangers. If the patient cannot hold down food and drink for a period, they are challenged to stay well hydrated. Although this disease itself is rarely fatal so long as the patient does not become dehydrated, which can impact their health dramatically in other ways.
If someone starts to feel very chilled after getting bitten by a mosquito, there is a reason to suspect they might have developed chikungunya. These chills are another symptom that appears in the initial phase of the disease. There is usually a delay of two or three days between the bite and the onset of the chills. These chills do not usually last for more than a few days. Not every person who gets chikungunya experiences these chills. In fact, in a few of the mildest cases of this viral disease, these signs of infections may be virtually unrecognizable.
Severe headaches sometimes occur along with the joint pain and fever in this disease’s preliminary stage. As with these other symptoms, these headaches start some days after the infected mosquito bit them. The delay period between the bite and the appearance of this symptom can be as short as three days or as long as a week. In many cases, the headaches do not continue beyond a couple of days, but in the most severe instances, they may persist for a week or so.
Rashes and Skin Issues
In its initial stage, Chikungunya can cause rashes to break out on limbs and other areas of the body. Typically, this rash takes the form of a raised red bump on the skin. In addition to the rash, patients also sometimes suffer from peeling skin and the skin spotting known as Hyperpigmentation. The disease could even cause them to develop mouth ulcers. If this is a typical case of chikungunya, these skin problems should disappear without treatment within two or three weeks, or possibly even sooner.
When the chikungunya viral disease first takes root in a patient, it can cause severe diarrhea. This symptom might not appear until a week has passed from the time the mosquito bit them. It could take a few days before diarrhea ceases. During this time, individuals need to be extra careful to ensure they drink sufficiently to replenish the fluids they lose from their body to prevent dehydration.
Fortunately, this disease rarely causes heart damage, but it could occur in complicated situations. In chronic instances, the disease could cause an inflammation of the heart muscle. Although fatalities are rare, this is a source of concern for people who already have some heart problems, and for babies and the elderly. The majority of patients who develop severe chikungunya symptoms are over sixty-five and one-third of them die as a result. However, this disturbing figure does account for a very small percentage of the total number of patients who contract the disease.
Insomnia is a common symptom in the early phase of the disease that usually begins within a week of the infected mosquito bite. It is often accompanied by fever, but while the fever lasts just a few days, insomnia can continue for a week. Although insomnia is not dangerous in itself, it weakens the body’s natural resistance, and this can have more serious consequences. Insomnia can also make the individual feel weaker because they aren’t getting any rest.
Damage to Eyesight
In a small number of recorded cases, people infected with chikungunya suffer from eye inflammations. The signs of this problem include a reddening of the eye and a sensitivity to bright lights. People who experience this problem should report it right away as healthcare providers may be able to offer treatments to provide relief from the inflammation.