KARACHI – Government of Sindh has declared a health emergency in Malir, Karachi following the outbreak of a mysterious disease which was earlier describes to be ‘Chikugunya’ by doctors.
The disease has spread rapidly in the area as thousands of people have been affected in less than a month.
Sindh Health Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro paid a visit to Saudabad Hospital on Monday. During his visit, Mr Mandhro said, “Officially, the disease hasn’t been diagnosed as yet, but the experts believe it could be Chikungunya virus, considering the symptoms.”
He further mentioned that the identification of virus would take time; however, blood samples have been dispatched to the laboratory, the minister added.
Health officers have also collected the sample of water from the residential area near Govt. Hospital, which will be dispatched to Agha Khan Labs for the test.
However, Federal Government and WHO confirmed that the situation in Malir Karachi isn’t Chikungunya.
What is Chikungunya?
According to World Health Organization (WHO), Chikungunya is a viral disease that transmits to humans from infected mosquitoes.
This viral disease was first described during an outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952. It is an RNA virus that belongs to the Alphavirus genus of the family Togaviridae. Notable human diseases caused by RNA viruses include Ebola hemorrhagic fever, SARS, the common cold, influenza, hepatitis C, West Nile fever, polio and measles.
The name “chikungunya” derives from a word in the Kimakonde language, meaning “to become contorted”, and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain (arthralgia).
History of Chikungunya
The disease was first identified in Tanzania in 1952. Since then, the virus has attacked Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
In recent decades mosquito vectors of Chikungunya have spread to Europe and the Americas. In 2007, disease transmission was reported for the first time in a localised outbreak in north-eastern Italy. Outbreaks have since been recorded in France and Croatia.
Symptoms of Chikungunya include the joints in the hands and feet. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.
Joint pain is often debilitating and can vary in duration. The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.
How to keep safe from Chikungunya?
There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for chikungunya. Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms, including the joint pain using antipyretic, optimal analgesics and fluids. There is no commercial chikungunya vaccine.
For those who sleep during the daytime, particularly young children, or sick or older people, insecticide-treated mosquito nets afford excellent protection. Mosquito coils or other insecticide vaporisers may also reduce indoor biting.
Basic precautions should be taken by people travelling to risk areas, and these include the use of repellents, wearing long sleeves and pants and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering.