Mosquito-borne Chikungunya is spreading fast in the capital Dhaka with intermittent rains.
The government’s disease monitoring arm, IEDCR, has asked people to be aware of the viral infection that has some similarities with dengue fever caused by Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
Shaiful Hassan Shameem has been struggling to bring his fever down. A doctor by training, he could not figure out why his fever persisted as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit despite taking medication.
He ended up in a hospital that sent his blood sample to the IEDCR. He was diagnosed with Chikungunya.
Speaking to bdnews24.com on Tuesday, 11 days after he first noticed his fever, Shameem said the symptoms were so bizarre that he could not walk due to pain in the joints.
“Now I can walk, but still I feel some pain,” he said.
IEDCR Senior Scientific Officer Dr ASM Alamgir told bdnews24.com that Chikungunya is spreading in the capital with sporadic rains.
He would not say how many patients they have recorded so far since he said the actual magnitude is much higher than the figure they get.
“We do not get all the samples for testing. Even if any sample is sent five days after the fever, we do not test that because that can give a false negative result,” he explained.
“But one person getting fever in a family of four means three other members can be infected. Mosquito can rapidly transmit the virus from one person to another. So the key is to use mosquito nets whenever you go to bed even in daytime.”
Both dengue and Chikungunya show some common symptoms such as fever, pain.
“But in Chikungunya the pain is so severe that people cannot move. It involves all the joints,” Dr Alamgir said.
It can be misdiagnosed, but both of them have no specific treatment. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms only. Paracetamol is the drug of choice for relieving both fever and pain. There is no need to wait for testing, experts say.
General awareness is important as the Aedes mosquito usually breeds in a small collection of clean water in and around houses, such as inside a flower vase.
Intermittent rains cause a proliferation of the breeding when water accumulates in different containers around houses.
IEDCR advises removal of all open containers with stagnant water in and around the houses on a regular basis – flower plates and pots, used tyres, tree holes and rock pools.
Shameem, who lives in a new, luxurious flat in Dhanmondi, said he has already identified the source of the mosquito breeding inside their building.
“It’s a new building. Many apartments are empty. There are some fountains which are not well maintained so water remains stagnant there. Mosquito breeds there,” he said.
The IEDCR advises patients to take rest under bed-nets, preferably permethrin-impregnated nets.
“We have to educate the patient and other members in the household about the risk of transmission to others and the ways to minimise the risk,” Dr Alamgir said.
The name Chikungunya came from the word ‘Makonde’ meaning bending up, referring to the posture developed as a result of the arthritic symptoms of the disease.
It was first identified in 1953 in Tanzania. India reported an epidemic in 1964.
Bangladesh found the first case in 2008 in northern Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj districts. In Dhaka, IEDCR noticed the presence of the disease later in 2O11.
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