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The Chikungunya virus

Monday, February 17, 2014
Science and Society

Over the past few months, several people have reported that they had contracted a flu-like virus. They experienced fever, severe body and joint pains and were incapacitated for periods that were longer that those normally associated with the periodic flu viruses. Diagnoses indicated that it is not dengue. So what is it? In the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian of December 19, 2013, it was reported that the Minister of Health, Dr Fuad Khan, indicated that it was not the Chikungunya virus. 


This was in response to suggestions that it may have been the virus responsible for the latest flu with its rather severe symptoms. Further he gave the assurance that an alert has been issued at the ports of entry and the health institutions. So what is the Chikungunya virus and can it have an outbreak here? According to the World Health Organization, Chikungunya is a viral disease, transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, and causes fever and severe joint pain. 


Other symptoms include headache, muscle pain fatigue, nausea and rash. It was first found in Tanzania in 1952 and got its name from local Kimakonde language and which means to be “bent upwards”, reflective of the reaction of the afflicted to the intensity of the pain the fever causes.


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