Haitian Child

Haitian Child

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Chikungunya in Haiti

Chikungunya is a "new infection," especially in the Western Hemisphere. The first infections in this hemisphere were noted in 2013. 

The name derives from Swahili and translates as "to be bent over," which refers to the stooped-over-posture noted in infected individuals who suffer from the chronic incapacitating joint pains in the spine. 

The infection is transmitted by mosquito bites and the symptoms are similar to those of Dengue Fever, which is transmitted by the same species of mosquito. The incubation period is an average of 3 to 7 days. 

The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. 

The infection presents with a sudden fever that can be as high as 105 degrees and last for 2 or 3 days. There might be shaking chillls with the fever. 

The joint pains are usually in multiple joints and include the small bones of the hands, wrists, and ankles. Spine involvement is common. Larger joints (shoulder, knees) are less commonly involved. The joint pains are symmetrical and can migrate. When multiple joints are involved the patient might be incapacitated. Pain is worse in the morning and improves with slow exercise. Joint symptoms resolve completely within 1 or 2 weeks in most patients. However, a third develop chronic joint symptoms, which persist for 3 to 6 months in 30%, 20 months in 15%, and for 3 to 5 years in 12%. 

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