Chikungunya adds to Dengue scare in India

The situation in the Indian city of Delhi, which is battling to control an outgreak of dengue fever now approaching epidemic proportions, has been exacerbated by an outbreak of another mosquito bourne disease, Chikungunya.

At least one person from Govindpuri area has reported to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) casualty with suspected Chikungunya and another 19 samples from Delhi are waiting to be tested for chikungunya.

Chikungunya, a viral disease, is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes, typically Aedes aegypti, although there may be other competent mosquito vectors. The name, chickungunya, comes from the Swahili for stooped walk, reflecting the physique of a person suffering from the disease. The disease has been described in Africa, South-East Asia, southern India and Pakistan. It occurs principally during the rainy season. - World Health Organization

Health experts are concerned and apprehensive about the monitoring and diagnostic confusion which is likely to occur when two similar diseases appear in the same population.

Doctors say as both diseases are notifiable and only a virology test can confirm which is which, confusion is inevitable.

Both are spread by the Aedes Egypti mosquito, and have similar symptoms such as rashes, body ache, headache, fever and falling platelet count.

As neither the dengue virus, nor Chikungunya virus have specific medications, treatment for both is mostly symptomatic, and analgesics and anti-fever medications are the most effective.

The appearance of Chikungunya virus could also add to the panic.

In order to differentiate between Dengue and Chikungunya DNA fingerprinting needs to be done on the first day and because that is not possible in all cases, misdiagnosis is almost certain and monitoring will be difficult.

However doctors say dengue remains the greatest cause for concern as Chikungunya does not have very high mortality rate.

At least two confirmed Chikungunya cases have been reported in the capital and the disease, is apparently making a comeback in north India after decades.

Over 700 cases of dengue have been reported in Kerala, in southern India, four of which are reported to have died.

The area has also been battling with an outbreak of Chinkungunya in recent weeks.

To date in Delhi, 20 people have died from Dengue and the number of people reporting with symptoms has risen to 957, with 367 of those coming from states around Delhi.

Across India in the last week or so a total of 50 people have died from Dengue and 3613 people are receiving treatment.

Health officials are struggling to clean up the city where breeding grounds for mosquitoes are everywhere and are concentrating on eliminating standing water and spraying suspect sites.

They are also encouraging the use of mosquito repellant and bed nets and placing patients with the disease in nets to avoid mosquitoes biting them and spreading the disease further.

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