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Chikungunya: Caribbean hits 40,000 cases
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.