Sorry to do this, but I want you to be concerned and here’s why.
After three weeks, I still cannot wear my wedding ring, cannot hike, and driving is painful, all thanks to a small, yet powerful mosquito. I’m still recovering from a mosquito-borne virus called chikungunya, and have learned that the symptoms for adults can last for months or years.
Long after the flu-like symptoms have disappeared, some adults continue to endure the chronic inflammatory joint pain as we manage to get through our daily activities. We occasionally compare symptoms with each other and wonder when they’ll end.
So when will they end?
There are a few studies that focus on the post-chikungunya chronic inflammatory rheumatism that can remain weeks, months, and possibly years after the day-time mosquito has long had her fill.
Many of the infected, including my youngest son, had the high fever, headache, and aches; yet, for adults like me, it appears that the arthritic pain and swelling of joints is longer-lasting and more severe, to the point that it can be painful to climb stairs and to open doors.
I’d like to know that one morning I won’t find it painful to hold my full cup of coffee, and it’s scary to know that it could be a long time before I’ll be pain free.
According to the 2011 Current Infectious Disease Reports of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, those infected with chikungunya can experience, “…inflammatory relapses, long-lasting rheumatism, and a significant loss in the quality of life. This deterioration is more frequent in patients over 40 years of age…” The joint pain can last up to three years for more than 60 percent of those infected.
So why should you be concerned? Think about the people around you and what they do. Are they athletes, hair stylists, gardeners, drivers, or teachers? If so, this virus can cause them enough pain that it can affect their performance, or at least affect their quality of life. As a teacher I’m lucky that I don’t need to do much hand-writing, which I find painful.
And if you haven’t been infected yet, please be vigilant because this is one virus that is mutating and not going away. Scientists have found that one strain of the virus is surviving in cooler climates. The virus has jumped from the tropical Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, to the Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito that survives in cooler climates in Europe, China, and the United States.
As more of us suffer through the pain, we can advise you to be careful and use repellent. If you have an infected person in your house, make sure they use repellent and are under a mosquito net during the day so as not to infect those around them. Mosquitoes bite the infected and then carry the virus to their next victim. An infected person can carry the virus for at least ten days, so well after they have returned to their daily lives.
Let’s all be concerned. As this virus spreads globally, more resources should be dedicated to eradicating the virus and studying the long-term effects of the chronic inflammatory rheumatism associated with chikungunya.
Seppa, Nathan. “Chikungunya Wings Its Way North—on Mosquitoes”. Student Science.
Science News. 04 Sept. 2015. Web. 12 Sept. 2015.
Simon, F., Javelle, E., Oliver, M., Leparc-Goffart, I., and Marimoutou, C. “Chikungunya Virus Infection”.
Current Infectious Disease Reports. National Center for Biotechnology
Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 06 Apr. 2011. Web. 12 Sept. 2015.