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Chikungunya: Caribbean hits 40,000 cases

Sunday, May 11, 2014
Outside Track

High fever? Severe joint pain? Arthritis symptoms? Chikungunya does not sound like everyone’s flavour of the month. Nonetheless, it will be coming shortly to a clinic near you. The symptoms are in some ways similar to dengue, but sharper. Think Dengue 2.0. Besides the fever and pains, watch out for optional add-ons: rash, headache, nausea, vomiting, conjunctivitis, back pain and swollen feet. 


As with dengue, there’s no magic cure. Best advice is plenty of rest, plenty of liquids, no stress—and no aspirin. Forget about antibiotics. It’s a virus; they will just bounce off. Some painkillers may relieve the symptoms. For the future, there’s work-in-progress on a vaccine.


For most patients, high fever lasts a few days; but intense pain, tiredness, headaches continue. For the young, these generally last for a week or more; for some unfortunate middle-aged and elderly patients, they may drag on unbearably for months, even years. Two years after a 2006 outbreak in the French overseas department of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, almost half the patients were still reporting symptoms such as joint pain or severe depression.