According to the World Heath Organization (WHO), chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes causing fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.
The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue and zika, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where they are common. There is no cure for the disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.
The proximity of mosquito breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for chikungunya.
Abdul Jalil, a resident in Savar, was admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) on May 21 with severe fever and joint pain that was misdiagnosed earlier at Enam Medical College Hospital where his doctor just prescribed paracetamol for his illness.
At the DMCH, he was tested positive for chikungunya.
On-duty doctor Lamiya Sharmin, who diagnosed Jalil, said: “We noticed he had chikungunya when we saw the presence of red rash and joint pain.”
Pregnant women and the elderly are at a higher risk of getting chikungunya, she added.
Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Director Prof Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora said 196 cases of chikungunya has so far been confirmed from
April to May 25.
“From 30-35 people getting tested everyday, 10-15 of them test positive for the CHIKV virus,” she said.
“The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test is the best way to confirm whether the CHIKV is present or not. It costs between Tk8,000 to 10,000 and is not available at all hospitals and clinics.”
Dhanmondi, Lalmatia and Kalabagan are the most affected areas, according to Dr SK Jakaria Been Sayeed, indoor medical officer at the DMCH.
“We found 65 patients suspected to have chikungunya virus after blood tests were done at the IEDCR. About 30 patients have already been released from the hospital after recovery,” he said.
At Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), 45 patients were found to be infected with the CHIKV virus so far.
“The only place that can test for CHIKV in Bangladesh is the IEDCR,” said Prof Dr Sania Tahmina, director of disease control at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
She said there has not been a full count of the patients affected by chikungunya in Bangladesh, making the data collection very hard.
The IEDCR director said the virus is not very dangerous, and advised using mosquito repellent as much as possible.
She also advised against using pain killers if infected, but keeping hydrated with drinking lots of water and saline.