More than 100 people have become ill from the chikungunya virus in Champassak province this year.

Director of the province’s Health Department, Dr Khampho Chaleunvong, said this was the first outbreak of the disease in Champassak.

About 50 cases were recorded in Pathoumphone district while the rest were in Khong and Mounlapamok districts.

“We believe the virus was transmitted from Champassak’s neighbouring province in Cambodia by Aedes mosquitoes as there has also been an outbreak of chikungunya over there,” she said.

Dr Khampho said the virus is now under control. However, the public is encouraged to clear out any potential mosquito breeding places once a week, including shallow pools of water and the water that collects in old tyres. Getting rid of the source will not only combat chikungunya, but will also be an effective way of fighting the spread of dengue fever.

The most effective means of prevention is through limiting contact with the disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Other controls include using the appropriate insect repellents. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers also offers some extra protection.

The chikungunya virus is transmitted to humans by the virus-carrying Aedes mosquito. There have been recent outbreaks in South-East Asia associated with severe illness.

Dr Khampho said the virus causes a sickness with symptoms similar to dengue fever, with an acute fever phase lasting two to five days, followed by a prolonged period of pain that affects the joints and extremities.

The incubation period of the chikungunya virus ranges from one to twelve days, but is usually two to three. Its symptoms include a fever registering a temperature of up to 40 degrees, a rash on the body and occasionally the limbs, and joint pain. In some cases, this joint pa in can last for weeks and even years. Other symptoms can include headache, conjunctivitis and partial loss of taste.

Typically, the fever will last for a few days and then end abruptly. However, it may be accompanied by an intense headache and insomnia.

Dr Khampho said there are no specific treatments for chikungunya, and no vaccine is currently available.

Source: Vientiane Times
By Xayxana Leukai
May 15, 2013