Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya Virus May Lead to Fatal Brain Infection

Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya Virus May Lead to Fatal Brain Infection
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The brain infection mostly affects infants and elderly ones and even lead to death as well.

A mosquito-borne virus is spreading fairly quickly among U.S. citizens and it can lead to a severe brain infection and even deaths in feeble ones, a new study suggests.

The study was focused on the outbreak of brain infection or encephalitis from chikungunya virus which occurred in Reunion Island off the coast of Madagascar in 2005 to 2006 and it found that the rate of brain infection in United States is much higher than anticipated.

The infection is spread by mosquitoes and most common symptoms of infection are fever, joint pain, joint swelling and rash and headaches. Mostly, people recover from infection within days but sometimes it may convert into a chronic infection which lasts for years. The infection is particularly threatening for infants or people who are more than 65 years old.

The first case of chinkungunya virus in U.S. was reported in Florida earlier this year and presumably brought in the territory from some foreign place. Moreover, no medicine is available to treat the infections. So health officials want U.S. residents to take precautionary measurements when traveling to other countries, especially those where outbreaks have already occurred like Africa, Asia, Caribbean Islands and Mexico. With that, they can prevent the spread of the infection.

“Since there is no vaccine to prevent chikungunya and no medicine to treat it, people who are travelling to these areas should be aware of this infection and take steps to avoid mosquito bites, such as wearing repellents and long sleeves and paints if possible.” Patrick Gérardin from Central University Hospital in Saint Pierre, Reunion Island and lead author of the study said.

In 2005-06 when virus hit the Reunion Island, it affected 300,000 people. Most of them were infants and elderly, 187 per 100,000 people and 37 per 100,000 people respectively. Deaths associated with infection were 17%. An estimated 30 to 45 percent of the infected persons suffered persisting disabilities, including behavioral changes, thinking ability and memory.

Gérardin said. “These numbers are both much higher than the rates of encephalitis in the United States in these age categories, even when you add together all the causes of encephalitis.”


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