Chikungunya vs Dengue: Understanding the difference between the two‎

Any extremity of weather, though may make things uncomfortable for us, has its own advantages. Extreme cold or heat is not conducive to the growth of mosquitoes. But as the temperatures become moderate, mosquitoes start nesting in the corners of practically every house. Contaminated or standing water is their favourite breeding ground. Room coolers, plants, open drainage pipe etc, all become a favourable place for mosquitoes. And with these growing number of mosquitoes, comes the much-talked about diseases: Dengue and Chikungunya. Moreover, with no vaccine or medicine to prevent them and reports of hospitals packed with patients, the only key to prevention is awareness.

Both Chikungunya and Dengue are fevers caused by the same mosquito bite and show similar symptoms. Mostly both are treated as a case of mistaken identity until correlated with the laboratory findings. Both viral infections are spread by Aedes mosquito bite, having almost similar manifestations so, it becomes quite difficult to differentiate between the two fevers. Timely blood test to detect dengue and chikungunya is important to ward off further complications. This article will throw light on their differences and similarities in terms of symptoms, treatment and prevention of both.

Symptoms of Chikungunya

Those bitten by the infected mosquito generally show symptoms within 2-12 days, which is also called the incubation period. Mosquitoes causing Chikungunya generally bite during the day.  Symptoms include

  • High-grade fever more than 102. Fever occurs as the body raises its temperature in an attempt to kill the infectious agent
  • Severe joint pains in feet, ankle, wrists and hands with mild swelling as  the virus destroys cells in the muscles and joints
  • Severe back pain
  • Headache with photophobia
  • Muscle pain with fatigue
  • Skin maculopopular rash that appears in the first 48 hours of symptoms generally on the trunk, hands and feet.
  • Sore throat
  • Eye pain with conjunctivitis
  • Non-fatal but can lead to body pains for several months and years.
  • To investigate an ELISA assay can be used to measure the levels of immunoglobin to identify the chikungunya virus. Results are sent within 2-3 days.

 

Symptoms of Dengue

This viral disease is transmitted to human bodies through the bite of female Aedes mosquitoes and from an infected human to another, in cases of blood transfusion. The dengue causing mosquitoes usually bite during the night. Symptoms usually begin to show 4-6 days after infection and last for up to 10 days and may include:

  • Sudden high fever without any prior underlying infection. Fever can go as high as 103-104. Fever may come down rapidly within 2 to 4 days, with severe sweating
  • Severe headache
  • Pain behind the eye and increases with eye movement
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue with feeling of prostration
  • Rash which generally appears within 48 hours mainly on face and limbs
  • Mild bleeding either from the nose or from gums
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and groin
  • Decreased heart rate, also known as tachycardia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Can be fatal if the symptoms are not controlled by regular monitoring
  • The platelet count is investigated regularly to see the level of damage
  • To investigate ELISA test is performed for detection of antibodies to dengue virus

 

Differentiating between Chikungunya and Dengue

Symptom

Chikungunya

Dengue

Time period

The symptoms take weeks or months to fade away Symptoms reduces within 3-4 weeks of medication and rest

Initial Symptom

Fever, joint and muscle pain, eye infection, rashes Fever, pain in joints, eye pain, rashes

Skin rash

Rashes on arms and trunk Rashes on face and arms

Joint pain

Pain in wrist, hands, feet and legs Pain in shoulders, knees

Recovery

Possible with joint pains as an impact Can be fatal at times

 

 

Treatment of Chikungunya and Dengue

As both these viral infections are caused by the same mosquito, their clinical manifestations are quite similar, therefore, several times they both are mistaken. The line of treatment is very similar in both other than the treatment of the different symptoms shown by the infections.

It needs medical supervision and sometimes hospitalization as well to control the symptoms such as bleeding in dengue and regular monitoring of the platelet levels is required in dengue. Treatment is mainly symptomatic and may include:

  • Rest in the acute stage of the disease. The patients are prone to dehydration and therefore, are advised to increase their fluid intake
  • Relief of pain and fever by acetaminophen (paracetamol) or ibuprofen, but not in the first three days. Since both the diseases have similar symptoms, giving any kind of medicines, including painkillers in the first two-three days is fatal. It could lead to bleeding, in some cases.
  • Chloroquine may be used for prolonged joint pains.

 

Home remedies for Chikungunya and Dengue

Home remedies can be tried once relief is achieved from medication.

For Chikungunya

Consume ginger tea, green tea which can help relieve inflammation.

Apply an ice pack wrapped in a small hand towel over the joint for a while to reduce inflammation and pain

For Dengue

Steeping neem leaves and then drinking the subsequent brew has been shown to increase both blood platelet count and white blood cell count, two of the most dangerous side effects of the virus.

Papaya leaves are widely known as being a natural cure for dengue fever. The complex mix of nutrients and organic compounds in papayas can cause a rise in your platelet count

 

Prevention from Chikungunya and Dengue

Prevention of any disease is better than its cure, but prevention of such diseases is certainly difficult. Unlike many diseases, there are no vaccines. The only prevention available for both of these diseases is prevention from mosquito bites.

Various methods can be implemented to reduce the risk of mosquito bites like:

  • Do not allow water accumulation in and around your house
  • Stagnant waste materials to be removed regularly
  • DDT sprays to kill insects
  • When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Using eucalyptus oil to reduce mosquitoes in the surroundings
  • Applying mosquito repellent creams
  • If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent

Just follow the tips of healthy and clean living and avoid mosquito bites to stay safe from these viral diseases. Inspite of all precautions, if a mosquito has bit you and you are showing symptoms of fever, get checked! Blood test for Chikungunya or dengue done at the right time can help you recover fast.

 

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2 Comments

  • arjun patil

    Female mosquitoes need the protein in blood to develop their eggs. During the monsoon, pools of water provide a perfect breeding place; but even vases, planters and small amounts of water are fine for breeding. Female mosquitoes that are infected with the Chikungunya virus, that is all too prevalent in India, bite humans, drink their blood and thus infect them with the virus, causing the Chikungunya fever and diseases. Advanced age, Rheumatic disease, small infants, and toddlers should be taken to the doctor/hospital upon suspicion of Chikungunya, Viral antigens have been detected in the muscle biopsy of a person suffering recurrent severe episodes of Chikungunya symptoms, three months after the first episode. Hence although not normally life-threatening Chikungunya can cause distressing, debilitating and even disabling symptoms: particularly in the already weak, ailing or elderly persons. Avoiding suck symptoms and situations is obviously a priority, as symptoms can be alleviated till the virus gets out of the system.Prevention, it is said, is better than cure. In this case of this painful infection, it would be essential to get a complete mosquito-control program completed yearly from a professional pest control service provider and stay safe from the many diseases causing viruses spread by mosquitoes. Otherwise, be prepared for doctors and Chikungunya treatment.

  • Rishika

    There is no specific treatment for chikungunya. There are no vaccines currently available. Chikungunya is treated symptomatically, usually with bed rest, fluids, and medicines to ease symptoms of fever and aching. Infected persons should be protected from further mosquito exposure during the first few days of the illness so they can not contribute to the transmission cycle.

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