What are we Doing About Chikungunya?
One of my
readers dearest friends whom I am convinced is one of only a handful of people who read my blog regularly, suggested I write a post explaining any treatments for Chikungunya since I neglected to include that in my post last week.
Brilliant idea! Why didn’t I think of that?
Unfortunately, there aren’t any standard treatments for Chikungunya. Although Chikungunya is rarely fatal, someone who is infected will have to tough it out. This can take up to 15 days for younger people and 1-3 months for middle-aged patients. The elderly can take even longer to recover.
As there are no antivirals to combat the infection, treatment is restricted to treating the symptoms. Similar to all illnesses, infected people should get plenty of rest and fluids and can take medicine to reduce fever and aching (such as ibruprofen or acetominophen [never aspirin!]). Importantly, infected people should also protect themselves from further mosquito exposure so they don’t pass the virus along.
All of the above measures can be taken during the early days of sickness, but they offer little relief to those patients left with debilitating pain for months after infection.
At least one research study suggests that the anti-malaria drug, chloroquine, may be effective at treating the arthritis-like pain induced by the virus. However, another study does not support the same conclusion. More research will have to be done to sort these differences out.
Several Chikungunya vaccines are in the earliest stages of development. In addition, the US Government sponsored a Phase II Chikungunya vaccine trial using a live virus that had been weakened in the laboratory. Phase II trials test the safety of a vaccine and also measure the immune response induced by the vaccine.
They found that the vaccine was well tolerated with 5/59 volunteers reporting transient (lasting <24 hours) joint pain after vaccination.
They also found that the vaccine induced a strong immune response in 98% of injected volunteers 28 days after vaccination and the immune response continued for up to a year after vaccination in 85% of the volunteers.
Although these results give hope for a Chikungunya vaccine in the future, the US government is no longer pursuing the research.
Perhaps this will change with the spread of the virus.