Outbreak of the Chikungunya virus has been reported in Mandera with infections reaching 580.
The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) indicated that the virus is likely to spread to other parts of the country.
Coast region and North Eastern are the most vulnerable regions for the virus.
There was an outbreak of Chikungunya in the Coast region in 2004 and 2005, specifically in Lamu, Mombasa and Kilifi. So the risk of the virus spreading there is justified based on historical facts and the environment.
Reports indicate that the Chikungunya virus was spread in Mandera by travellers from Somalia.
Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu said recently that the Government was battling to control mosquitoes carrying the virus in Mandera while mobilizing area residents to protect themselves from being bitten by the vector.
So far, at least 580 people, including 40 nurses, 4 doctors, 13 clinical officers and 23 support staff, have been infected by Chikungunya virus
Here is what you should know about the fast spreading virus
According to World Health Organization, Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease 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.
The name “Chikungunya” was derived from a word in the Kimakonde language, meaning “to become contorted”, and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain.
The Chikungunya virus is transmitted to humans by infectious Aedes mosquitoes which are known to strike during the day even though is said doesn’t cause fatalities.
Chief virologist at Kemri, Rosemary Sang raised an alarm when she said that there was intense transmission at the hospitals in Mandera County but the virus has now been put under control.
“About 50 percent of health workers are affected because there is intense transmission at the hospitals. Patients should stay under bed nets during the day and night,” she had said.
Signs and symptoms
Chikungunya is characterized by an abrupt onset of fever frequently accompanied by joint pain.
According to Digital Press Kit on the Chikungunya from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the signs and symptoms of the infection are fever and severe joint pain.
Other common signs and symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.
The joint pain is often very unbearable, but usually lasts for a few days or may be prolonged to weeks. Hence the virus can cause acute, sub-acute or chronic disease.
Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years.
Occasional cases of eye, neurological and heart complications have been reported, as well as gastrointestinal complaints.
Serious complications are not common, but in older people, the disease can contribute to the cause of death.
Chikungunya epidemics has been identified in over 60 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
In 2013, the Chikungunya virus was found for the first time among the Americas on the Caribbean islands.
The virus is transmitted from human to human by the bites of the infected mosquitoes.
The government said on Friday June 3 that it has stepped up the fight against the virus as well as control the Aedes mosquito in Mandera County in addition to increasing surveillance at the coastal Counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Lamu and Malindi.
The mosquitoes involved are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, two species which can also transmit other mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue.
You can also read, Zika Virus, what you should know.
These mosquitoes can be found biting throughout daylight hours, though there may be peaks of activity in the early morning and late afternoon.
After the bite of an infected mosquito, onset of illness occurs usually between 4 and 8
days but can range from 2 to 12 days.
Several methods can be used for diagnosis.
Serological tests, such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), may confirm the presence of IgM and IgG anti – Chikungunya antibodies.
IgM antibody levels are highest 3 to 5 weeks after the onset of illness and persist for about 2 months.
Samples collected during the first week after the onset of symptoms should be tested by both serological and virological methods (RT-PCR).
The virus may be isolated from the blood during the first few days of infection.
Various reverse transcriptase – polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR) methods are available but are of variable sensitivity.
RT–PCR products from clinical samples may also be used for genotyping of the virus, allowing comparisons with virus samples from various geographical sources.
There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for Chikungunya.
Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms, including the joint pain using anti-pyretics, optimal analgesics and fluids.
There is no commercial vaccine to prevent or treat Chikungunya.
Fortunately, people who recover from the virus infection develop life-long immunity.
Prevention and control.
The virus can be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites especially when travelling to areas with the Chikungunya virus.
This can be through;
Through the use of insect repellent, mosquito nets, wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying in places with air conditioning.
The proximity of mosquito vector breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for Chikungunya as well as for other diseases that these species transmit.
Prevention and control relies heavily on;
Reducing the number of natural and artificial water-filled container habitats that support breeding of the mosquitoes.
Insecticides may be sprayed to kill flying mosquitoes, applied to surfaces in and around containers where the mosquitoes land, and used to treat water in containers to kill the immature larvae.
For protection during outbreaks of Chikungunya, clothing which minimizes skin exposure to the day-biting vectors is advised.
Repellents can be applied to exposed skin or to clothing in strict accordance with product label instructions.
Repellents should contain DEET (N, N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide), IR3535 (3-[N-acetyl-N-butyl]-aminopropionic acid ethyl ester) or icaridin (1-piperidinecarboxylic acid, 2-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-methylpropylester).
For those who sleep during the daytime, particularly young children, or sick or older people, insecticide-treated mosquito nets afford good protection.
Mosquito coils or other insecticide vaporizers may also reduce indoor biting.