Chikungunya is an arthropod-borne viral disease caused by the chikungunya virus (CHIKV). The Chikungunya virus is a single-stranded RNA virus belonging to the Alphavirus genus of the Togaviridae family. Chikungunya is transmitted by the bite of female Aedes Species, which may be Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus. Chikungunya has symptoms common to dengue and Zika and can often be misdiagnosed in the beginning. Asia, Africa, and the Indian sub-continent are the most affected areas by this virus. Chikungunya spreads actively during the monsoon season, and the mosquitoes bite during the early morning and sunset.

Children and toddlers are vulnerable to mosquito bites because they like to play outdoors and venture out in areas where mosquito bites are dominant. In addition, the dresses of infants and children expose their forearms and legs, which mosquitoes bite. Thus parents should understand the gravity of the situation and take necessary preventive actions to keep their children safe from vector-borne diseases like Chikungunya, Malaria, and Dengue.

This article gives information about the Chikungunya symptoms in infants and children, necessary preventive actions, and what to do if your child has Chikungunya symptoms.

Symptoms of Chikungunya in Children and Newborns
The symptoms of Chikungunya appear two to twelve days after getting an infection from the bite of a mosquito. The common signs and symptoms of Chikungunya in children include:

  • High fever ( 100.4 0F that lasts between four days to a week)
  • Headache
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and Joint pain accompanied by swelling
  • Immobility in the joints of wrists and ankles
  • Nasal congestion
  • Bleeding from nose and gums
  • Itchy rash on hands and legs
  • Red patches on the skin
  • Sore Throat
  • Body Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Temporary damage to the liver is a lesser-known symptom

Children recover from Chikungunya faster than adults. According to physicians, joint pain in children does not last long since their joints are still developing during that age.
Newborns have the risk of getting Chikungunya infection from their mother during birth. This happens if the mother gets infected with Chikungunya a few days before delivery. Infants are also protected from any deadly diseases for the six months of their birth due to IgG antibodies. Unfortunately, there are not many reports of Chikungunya infection in newborns.

However, few cases of Chikungunya in newborns have reported the following symptoms:

  • Excessive crying
  • Fever for three to five days
  • Nasal blotchy erythema ( redness around the nose)
  • Maculopapular rash ( flat discolored lesions with bumps)
  • Apnea ( cessation of respiratory airflow)
  • Shock
  • Vesiculobullous lesions
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation (severe disorder in which the proteins responsible for blood clotting become overactive)
  • Newborns with pre-existing health conditions may show signs of brain swelling and bacterial infection due to Chikungunya.

Our child is showing signs and symptoms of Chikungunya. What should we as parents do?
Consult a qualified pediatrician (child specialist doctor) immediately if you notice any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above in your child or if your child experiences convulsions and finds difficulty swallowing food. The doctor observes the child’s physical condition and goes for a laboratory diagnosis to confirm the disease. Although, Chikungunya has no specific treatment, initially, the physician will try to manage the fever and pain in the child with the help of antipyretics and analgesics. NSAIDs are not given, and the drug of choice to reduce fever is paracetamol. The child should be given enough bed rest and fluids to recover faster. Normal drinking water and green coconut water are best. However, before preparing any diet plan for your child, consult a nutritionist and take advice from your doctor.

Majors to prevent Chikungunya in Children
One can follow the following measures to protect your children from vector-borne diseases like Chikungunya, Malaria, and Dengue.

  • Always make your children sleep under mosquito nets impregnated with permethrin or deltamethrin.
  • Visit e-commerce stores and check for mosquito nets for babies. Newborns and toddlers should also sleep with the protection of a mosquito net.
  • Parents can also spray 0.5% permethrin on the clothes of their children to keep mosquitoes at bay. However, the clothes sprayed with permethrin should be left for air dry at least six hours before use.
  • Before your children go out to play, make sure they apply insect repellent cream on their skin and wear clothes that cover maximum areas of their bodies. However, if they are going out for reasons other than playing sports, ask them to wear full sleeve shirts, full trousers, and shoes.
  • Insect repellents may contain DEET, IR3535, or Picaridin. DEET (N, N-diethyl m-toluamide) has been proven safe and effective insect repellant for more than 40 years. DEET provides insect repellant activity for four to six hours. For children who cannot tolerate DEET insect repellants, DEET-free insect repellants are also available in the market. However, before applying for any topical medicine on your child, always consult a physician. Also, keep such topical medications away from the reach of your children as these medications can be toxic if ingested orally.
    Note: Mosquito repellent creams should not be applied to a child less than two months old.
  • Insects like mosquitoes are less attracted to light-colored objects. Thus, make sure your child wears light-colored outfits while going outside to play.
  • Keep your home and surroundings clean. Do not allow water to be stagnant near your home. Also, make sure no garbage dumps exist near your surroundings.
  • If your children are grown up, teach them to clean their surroundings and dispose of waste properly.


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