Chikungunya virus poses risk of encephalitis according to a recent study looking into the hazardous outbreaks related to the mosquito-borne virus.
The first Chikungunya virus outbreak of the 2000s was located on Reunion Island, in the Indian Ocean. With a timespan of one year (2005-2006), the Chikungunya virus outbreak left 300,000 people affected by a cohort of severe symptoms and newly developing afflictions, including neurological problems.
Neurological problems made the object of the recent study, with the research team looking into whether inflammations were still lasting three years after the end of the Chikungunya virus outbreak.
The mosquito-borne virus was first registered in Africa. Rapidly spreading, it first turned out in the Western hemisphere on the St. Martin Island. From here onwards, Chikungunya virus outbreaks were registered both in South and Central America. Not only here, but the virus made victims in North Carolina, Florida and Georgia as well.
When infected with the Chikungunya virus, the symptoms range from mild to severe. Among them, medical personnel dealing with infected patients have counted headache, fever, pain in the joints, swelling of the joints, severe muscle pain, as well as rashes. And according to the new study, the Chikungunya virus poses risk of encephalitis as well.
With no known cure or prevention treatment known, the outbreaks are difficult to manage. The majority of those infected recover from the illness after a period of time. However, in most severe cases, the Chikungunya virus infection is fatal.
In addition, some of the symptoms inflicted by the infection with the mosquito-borne virus become chronic. For instance, muscle pain or joint pain, caused by inflammation. Encephalitis or brain inflammation may also lead to death.
The categories most at risk from developing the most severe of the symptoms are infants and children in addition to adults above the age of 65. They also represent the highest mortality risk categories due to the Chikungunya virus infection.
According to the findings published in the Neurology journal, infants, children and the elderly accounted for the highest mortality rates even before the link with the brain inflammation or encephalitis became evident.
Overall, the rate of potentially fatal brain inflammation due to the Chikungunya virus infection in the U.S. exceeded the high rates caused by the West Nile virus outbreak or any other cause in the timeframe between 1999 and 2007.
The numbers are telling for how Chikungunya virus poses risk of encephalitis. Studying the Chikungunya-associated brain inflammation cases, the researchers concluded that 8.6 per 100,000 people develop encephalitis due to the Chikungunya virus. 187 per 100,000 infants will develop the debilitating condition, while 37 per 100,000 adults over 65 will experience the same.
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