Last chikungunya spurt in 2006, doctors suggest precautions

New Delhi, Aug 23 (PTI) The sudden spike in chikungunyacases in several parts of north India, including Delhi, hascome nearly ten years after a big outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease across the country. In 2006, over 13 lakh suspected chikangunya fever caseswere reported across the country, according to National VectorBorne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP). This year till July 28, 9,990 suspected cases of thedisease have been recorded, with Karnataka reporting 7,591cases. At the AIIMS laboratories, which get blood samples fromDelhi and other parts of the country, 362 samples have testedpositive during July to August 20. "Out of 133 samples sent to our labs, 83 were testedpositive in July and this month till August 20, out of 502samples, 279 tested positive for chikungunya," said Lalit Darof Department of Microbiology at AIIMS. Health experts have attributed the rise to a possible"evolution" in the virus that carries this disease and changein weather factors like humidity. "What we have found out is that suddenly number ofchikungunya cases have increased in Delhi as also in severalother parts of the country. "The disease is caused by the same aedes aegypti mosquitowhich causes dengue but the difference is that dengue virushas four strains while chikungunya has only one," NVBDCPDirector, A C Dhariwal said. Dhariwal and other health experts have acknowledged thesudden spike in chikangunya cases but have appealed to peoplenot to panic. Chikangunya is a debilitating, though not life-threatening, disease with patients showing symptoms similar todengue. Typical symptoms include high-grade fever, severejoint pain, muscle pain and headache, joint swelling, orrashes. But it is not as dangerous as dengue in which there isa risk of bleeding due to abrupt fall in platelet count. "The joint pains last longer compared to dengue cases andespecially elderly people find it extremely difficult. Though,people should not worry as it not a life-threatening diseaselike dengue," Dar said. Safdarjung Hospital Medical Superintendent A K Rai saidover 600 patients came to its fever clinic on Sunday. "We are getting both dengue and chikungunya cases. And,though we have recorded about 42 chikungunya cases, it isactually a lot more," he said. There is no specific treatment for chikungunya.Supportive therapy that helps ease symptoms such asadministration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs andgetting plenty of rest, may be beneficial, according toexperts. More PTI KND AAR SKAAR

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