In a recently published paper scientists warn of encephalitis risk due to chikungunya infection. The mosquito-carried virus has sparked outbreaks in almost all regions of the world, leading to millions infected and hundreds dead.
The chikungunya infection causes serious symptoms which may be treated individually. However, there is no treatment targeting the virus itself, nor is there any preventive treatment available. Some of the symptoms resulting from the chikungunya infection persist as chronic diseases, leaving many debilitated on the long-term. According to the recently published paper, encephalitis is one of the medical conditions sparked during chikungunya outbreak. It is also one of the most dangerous conditions, brain inflammation being potentially deadly.
In 2005, Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean marked the hotspot of the first chikungunya outbreak. Lasting for almost one year, the outbreak took a toll on the health of 300,000 people and left several dead. Spotted for the first time in Africa, the mosquito-carried virus rapidly spread to the Western Hemisphere. From St. Martin Island to the Americas and the states of Georgia, North Carolina and Florida, the chikungunya outbreaks became increasingly more commonplace.
Now, medical researchers looked into neurological conditions sparked by the chikungunya infection and the long-term effects on the patients.
As a result of the in-depth study, the scientists warn of encephalitis risk due to chikungunya infection. Brain inflammation or encephalitis affects a large number of those infected with the chikungunya virus. According to the researchers, elderly people as well as infants are most at risk for being affected by brain inflammation. In addition, the highest mortality rate due to the neurological problem is also in these two high risk categories.
The research paper featuring in the Neurology journal shows that in the U.S. states where a chikungunya outbreak was registered, the number of those suffering neurological problems exceeded the numbers resulted from the West Nile virus outbreak.
Taking all outbreaks into account, the researchers calculated that the rate of infants infected with the chikungunya virus and who develop encephalitis is 187 per 100,000. As for the elderly, defined as adults above the age of 65, the rate of those who develop encephalitis is 37 per 100,000.
In addition to brain inflammation, the chikungunya infection also translates into rashes, headaches, fever, as well as swollen joints, severe joint pain and muscle pain. The latter may become chronic conditions.
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