Chikungunya In Children


Chikungunya has symptoms that are common to Dengue and Zika and can often be misdiagnosed in the beginning. Asia, Africa, and the Indian sub-continent are most affected with this virus. Chikungunya translates to “to become contorted” in the Kimokonde language. Most patients of Chikungunya recover quickly within weeks. However, in some rare instances, the disease can last up to months or even years for some patients. In older people, Chikungunya can even lead to death. In 2005, a major outbreak of Chikungunya was recorded near the Indian ocean. Other cases of Chikungunya outbreaks around the world have been recorded in different parts of Europe and the United States. With the onset of monsoons, guarding against Chikungunya becomes a priority of every parent. Read on for all you need to know about the symptoms, treatment and prevention of this disease.

What is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is a viral infection and a mosquito-borne disease that may affect anyone including children. Often confused with dengue, Chikungunya affects babies the most, and is more dangerous because it is difficult to detect. Rarely fatal, it is characterised by fever, painful joints and stooped posture. Joint pain caused by the Chikungunya virus usually lasts between one to two weeks. Themosquitoes involved inthe spreading of this disease are the Aedes Agypti and Aedes Albopictus.These two species of mosquitoes also contribute to the spread of dengue.

How Does Chikungunya Virus Spread?

The Chikungunya virus does not spread from one individual to another as it cannot be transmitted between people. The only way one can get infected with the Chikungunya virus is by getting bitten by mosquitoes carrying it.

Cases of Chikungunya-based mosquito bites can be eliminated by removing stagnant water in containers, maintaining proper hygiene, and cleaning the surrounding environment by getting rid of places or obstacles that provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes. It is believed that once a person is affected with this virus, their bodies become immune to it.

How are Children More Susceptible to Chikungunya?

Mosquito activity peaks during the daytime hours, when children are usually out and about. Whether it is when they are at schools or playing, they are vulnerable to mosquito bites.

Signs and Symptoms of Chikungunya in Children

Chikungunya is characterised by several signs and symptoms in children. The most common ones are:

  • High fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, lasting between 4 to 7 days
  • Muscle aches and pain in the joints accompanied by swelling
  • Body rashes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue and eye pain
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Joint immobility and pain in the wrists and ankles

Another lesser-known symptom of this disease is temporary damage to the liver.

Diagnosis of Chikungunya

The Chikungunya virus can be diagnosed through laboratory testing. This is done by serum or plasma examinations.

  • The virus can be detected in 3 days by sampling the viral culture.
  • The virus can be detected by the first week of the illness through viral RNA. Samples must be collected during the first week after the onset of symptoms.
  • Serological tests such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and RT-PCR samples can be used for genotyping and detecting the virus.
  • Blood sample isolation and tests using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reactions can help detect this virus by identifying antibodies present in the blood that are related to the Chikungunya disease.

Did you Know- In the United States of America, Biosafety Level III precautions are exercised in areas affected with Chikungunya as it is considered a category C priority pathogen.

Treating Chikungunya in Kids

There is no specific treatment or vaccines designed to combat Chikungunya.

  • The best way to treat Chikungunya in kids is by getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, drinking fluids, spending time indoors and relaxing.
  • Eating a healthy diet which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables that are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and various nutrients can help kids recover from Chikungunya faster.
  • Making kids drink Ginger tea and ensuring they get adequate sleep also facilitates recovery from Chikungunya.

Can Alternative Medication Help In Treating Joint Pain Post Chikungunya?

Alternative medications such as home remedies, ayurvedic treatments, and herbal medications can help with the treatment of joint-pain post-Chikungunya. Some of the natural remedies for treating joint pain associated with this virus are:

  • Consuming two Giloy capsules, 1 gram in dosage each, one after every meal
  • Drinking fresh homemade juice made from papaya leaves
  • Applying garlic paste on affected areas
  • Drinking turmeric milk or turmeric water
  • Applying cold presses to the affected areas
  • Massaging the affected areas with castor oil mixed with a pinch of cinnamon powder
  • Although there are no pharmaceutical drugs designed for the treatment of Chikungunya, one can aid in treatment Chikungunya by exercising supportive care and by means of treatment of symptoms at home.

How to Protect Your Child Against Chikungunya?

  • Keeping the environment clean and being fully clothed can help in providing maximum coverage from mosquito bites
  • Cleaning stagnant water, removing garbage and staying in air-conditioned rooms prevents mosquitoes from thriving and breeding.
  • Eliminating immature larvae from water and clearing up artificial water-filled containers along with spraying insecticides during onset periods of this virus helps maintain hygiene
  • Making use of insect repellents such as DEET, picaridin, PMD, and IR3535
  • Wearing long gloves and taking care when entering risk-averse areas affected by this virus.
  • As a counter-measure, one can also treat their garments and trousers with pyrethroids which is an insecticide-class with repellent properties against Chikungunya.

Conclusion: With the number of Chikungunya cases on the rise globally, countermeasures such as good hygiene, proper clothing, and incorporating nutritious diets can go a long way in the treatment of Chikungunya.