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DOH-Samar warns public vs. Chikungunya fever

By AVHA EBALDE, PIA Samar
January 23, 2013

CATBALOGAN CITY The Department of Health-Samar warns public against cases of Chikungunya virus infection.

The warning was issued in the province of Samar after 28 cases of fever with rashes and joint pains from Barangay Guintarcan were reported by the Municipal Health Officer of Rural Health Unit (RHU) Villareal, Samar in December 10-27, 2012. Ten cases or 36% were confirmed to have Chikungunya infection through IgM ELISA testing by the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM).

No death was reported.

Another 235 cases with similar symptoms were reported in Barangay Banquil of the same town which will be investigated further by the local health authorities.

Chikungunya fever is a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes (Aedes Aegypti). Symptoms appear on average three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The virus causes high fever and severe joint pain that suddenly. It can also cause headache, muscle pain and rash.

Acute Chikungunya fever typically lasts a few days to a few weeks; some patients have prolonged fatigue lasting several weeks. Chikungunya virus infection (whether clinically apparent or silent) is thought to confer life-long immunity.

According to Dr. Antonio Tirazona, Chikungunya is not usually fatal.

Co-circulation of dengue fever in many areas may mean that Chikungunya fever cases are sometimes clinically misdiagnosed as dengue infections, therefore the incidence of Chikungunya fever could be much higher than what has been previously reported, Tirazona added.

There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment currently available for Chikungunya fever. Treatment is symptomatic and can include rest, fluids, and medicines to relieve symptoms of fever and aching such as ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, or paracetamol. Aspirin should be avoided.

The doctor said that infected persons should be protected from further mosquito exposure during the first few days of illness so they can not contribute to the transmission cycle.

Tirazona suggested to the infected persons to stay indoors in areas with screens or under a mosquito net.

Same as in dengue control measures, the public is advised to practice the 4-S campaign, which includes searching and destroying possible breeding grounds of the mosquito vector; Self-protection by wearing long sleeve shirts and pants to prevent mosquito bites; seeking health professionals for a fever that lasts two days or more, and saying no to indiscriminate fogging.

DOH is encouraging the Local Government Officials to lead the conduct of search and destroy of mosquito breeding places. (with Dr. Antonio Tirazona, PHTL)