In just a week, chikungunya cases in Delhi have risen from 20 to 423. In fact, there are so many cases that it will probably overtake dengue as the most widespread monsoon ailment.
To give you a brief overview, chikungunya is a disease transmitted through the bite of the aedes mosquito, and is mostly found in Africa and Asia, all though North-East Italy has reported an outbreak for the first time. It also shares common symptoms with dengue and is sometimes misdiagnosed as dengue in areas where both diseases are common.
Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, rashes and headache as well as joint pain, and usually show up in 3-7 days after being infected. Joint pain may last for a few days or a few weeks or even months. Depending on how long the pain lasts, the disease can be classified as acute or chronic.
While the disease itself is not very dangerous and in many cases people don’t require hospitalisation, it is best to be cautious, especially in the case of newborns and people over 65.
There is no vaccine for the disease as of yet and the best way to prevent spread of the disease is to stop the mosquito from breeding and/or avoid its bite. Here are 8 simple ways you can do that.
1. Use insect repellents with any of the following ingredients: Picardin, DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus, to avoid mosquito bites.
For example: Odomos, a popularly available mosquito repellent cream.
2. If you have an AC, make sure you put it on at night, to prevent mosquitoes from bothering you.
3. Don’t leave open water spaces in and around your house since the Aedes mosquito often breeds in dark, enclosed spaces. Within your personal space, consider covering overhead tanks or even bathtubs and flower pots where water may stagnate.
4. Check for gaps and holes around overhead tanks. Cover them wherever possible and if it’s not possible, consider draining the tank at regular intervals to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
5. Wear clothing with long sleeves and long pants which leaves little skin exposed for mosquitoes to bite. Wear socks with shoes as well.
6. Put mosquito screens on your doors and windows. If that is not possible, keep your doors and windows closed towards the evening and sleep under a mosquito net.
7. Place insect repellents such as mosquito coils or the popularly available ‘Good Knight’ at strategic places throughout your house.
8. If you already have chikungunya, avoiding getting bitten is still important because the mosquito will transmit the disease from you (infected person) to another non-infected person.