Chikungunya is an infectious viral disease caused by mosquitoes (Chretien & Linthicum, 2008). The first case was reported in Africa in 1952. Since then, the virus has spread to other regions of the world. Its major symptoms include headache, rash, muscle pain, fever, and joint pain. The disease has neither a vaccine nor a treatment remedy. The rapid spread of the virus in various continents is an indication of how easy it is to transmit (Sudeep & Parashar, 2008). The first case of the disease was reported in America in 2013. There is fear that travelers will import the virus to areas where the disease has not yet been reported.
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History of the condition
Chikungunya is a viral disease spread by two main species of mosquitoes namely Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus (Reiter, Fontenille, & Paupy, 2006). It was first discovered in Africa in 1952 in a region between Tanzania and Mozambique (Staples, Breiman, & Powers, 2009). The first incidence of the disease involved an outbreak on the Makonde Plateau that caused panic among residents and government officials (Weaver, 2015).
The name of the disease comes from the native language that is used to describe the stooped posture that victims exhibit due to the effects of infection. Researchers have argued that the chikungunya virus (CHIKV) originated in either Central or East Africa (Reiter et al., 2006). In these regions, the virus has been found to circulate between different mosquito species that attack both humans and wild animals. In these areas, only a few cases of infections have been reported since the discovery of the disease. The disease has an infection process similar to that of dengue viruses (Sudeep & Parashar, 2008).
The disease is not highly infectious because since its discovery, few cases of outbreaks have been reported in Africa. However, recent outbreaks have facilitated the spread of the disease to other parts of the world. Outbreaks have been reported in Asia, Europe, and Africa in more than 40 countries (Sudeep & Parashar, 2008). The disease is infectious and has been grouped by the US National Institute of Allergy and infectious disease as a category C pathogen.
As mentioned earlier, the first case of chikungunya was reported in Africa in 1952. The disease later spread to sub-Saharan Africa, pacific, and South East Asia where it caused massive epidemics that led to the loss of many lives (Staples et al., 2009). The virus possesses three main genotypes that cause outbreaks in different regions of the world. They include the Asian, East Central South Asian, and the West African genotypes. The first epidemic occurrence of chikungunya was reported in Bangkok and India in the 1960s and 1970s (Staples et al., 2009). Since then, the disease went into remission and only minor outbreaks were reported.
However, in 2004, the disease re-emerged on the coast of Kenya and spread to islands of the Indian Ocean and other areas including India South East Asia (Weaver, 2015). During that period, more than 18 counties in different continents reported cases of imported chikungunya fever from counties where the disease been identified. Kenya experienced major outbreaks. For example, an outbreak in Lamu had 135,000 reported cases of infection (Staples et al., 2009).
In 2005, the virus spread to Comoros and caused 225,000 infections (Staples et al., 2009). Massive movements of people along the Indian Ocean coast transmitted the virus to La Reunion and caused approximately 266,000 infections (Staples et al., 2009). This was the first time neurological manifestations and death were associated with the virus. The Indian Ocean genotype of the CHIKV spread to India and caused millions of infections. The epidemiology of the disease is associated with factors such as the global distribution of transmission vectors and high rates of attacks associated with recurring epidemics (Staples et al., 2009).
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Application of prevention levels
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the three levels of infectious disease prevention encompass three main levels namely primary prevention, secondary prevention, and tertiary prevention. In the case of chikungunya, primary prevention involves staying away from areas that could harbor transmission vectors. Secondary prevention involves a diagnosis based on certain signs and symptoms that include headache, high fever, severe joint pain, and rash (Sudeep & Parashar, 2008). Blood tests are necessary to confirm the disease. Tertiary prevention involves using mosquito repellants and wearing clothing that fully covers the body to avoid getting bitten. Also, it is important to eliminate mosquito-breeding sites around homes, schools, and other dwelling places.
Chikungunya is a viral infectious disease that was discovered first in Arica in 1952. It went into remission a few years later but re-emerged in 2004 in Kenya. It later spread to other parts of the world and is responsible for millions of infections. It does not have a vaccine or cure. However, prevention measures include mosquito control and avoiding getting bitten by transmission vectors (mosquitoes). There are fears that lack of a vaccine and treatment remedies could facilitate the spread of the disease to other regions of the world.
Chretien, J. P., & Linthicum, K. J. (2008). Chikungunya in Europe: What’s Next? Lancet 370(9602), 1805-1806.
Reiter, P., Fontenille, D., & Paupy, C. (2006). Aedes albopictus as an epidemic Vector of Chikungunya Virus: Another Emerging Problem? The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 6(8), 463-464.
Staples, J. E., Breiman, R. F., & Powers, A. M. (2009). Chikungunya Fever: An Epidemiological Review of a Re-Emerging Infectious Disease. Clinical Infectious Diseases 49(6), 942-948.
Sudeep, A. B., & Parashar, D. (2008). Chikungunya: An Overview. Journal of Biosciences 33(4), 443-449.
Weaver, S. C. (2015). Chikungunya: Evolutionary History and Recent Epidemic Spread. Antiviral Research 120, 32-39.