The Intolerable Burden of Chikungunya: What’s New, What’s Needed?
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Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an emerging arthropod born virus belonging to genus Alphavirus and family Togaviridae with a +(ve) sense single stranded RNA of 11.8 Kb as genome. CHIKV infections are not new, its presence was felt in the early nineteenth century but it was confined mostly to few regions in Africa and Asia. The recent outbreak which erupted in Asia and many European countries was due to combinatorial effect of various factors like climatic changes, due to global warming, that helped the vector population. Mutations in the viral genome, mostly E1 gene played a major role in the adaptation of the virus to mosquitoes, causing epidemics. Human behavioral factors like travel from endemic to non endemic regions, lack of proper sanitation and awareness on arthropod borne diseases resulted in the massive CHIKV epidemics all over the world. Especially in India, various reports came from many states but the worst affected states being Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. CHIKV is not a fatal disease but some deaths have been reported in different parts of the globe. CHIKV not only affected the human health, but also had a heavy impact on the individual and national economy. CHIKV vaccines studies are raising hope for the effective treatment against the CHIKV infection. Till then the population and further growth of vectors for Chikungunya (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes) can be controlled by proper sanitation practices and public awareness on the arthropod borne diseases.