Chikungunya
AIIMS director clears the facts about chikungunya and asked people in north India not to panic [Representational Image]Reuters

Amid a spike in cases of chikungunya to 1,724 and 14 deaths reported so far in the national capital, MC Misra, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), on Monday asked the people in Delhi not to panic because of the vector-borne disease as it is a milder virus compared to dengue and it should not be considered as an epidemic.

He added that the cause of the reported deaths need not be chikungunya necessarily; the deaths can be linked to other factors such as age, immunity of the individual, other ailments, etc. People diagnosed with chikungunya are not guaranteed to die.

Misra stressed further that despite over 9,000 cases of chikungunya being reported in Karnataka and prevailing there for many years, the disease never caused panic in South India.

"It is self-limiting disease. The only other aspect of chikungunya is that it gives high fever when it begins which remains for 3-5 days and joint pain. I think joint pain is much more bothersome because of chikungunya and it would rarely kill if at all," Misra said.

The AIIMS director also gave tips to prevent this viral disease, which included three things to do: home care, hydration and hydrotherapy. The basic things one should do to tackle chikungunya is rest well at home, eat well and stay hydrated and apply hydrotherapy if suffering from high temperatures. Misra said that just consuming paracetamol pills will not be enough to lessen the body temperature, hydrotheraphy along with it would be more helpful.

He even advised that instead of using a small wet handkerchief to put on the hands and forehead of the fever-struck chikungunya patient, one could use a drenched sheet to cover the patient. Doing so would help in reducing the temperature more effectively.

"I think it is just that these people who died have come out positive for chikungunya also. There might more than what meets the eye in these patients, they might be suffering from diabetes where any illness becomes much more severe. There could be compound infections, there could be both chikungunya and other type of virus so we don't know," Misra said with the intention of stopping the panic caused among the people because of the disease.

Other tips given by Misra to stay protected from chikungunya and dengue and control the diseases included keeping the surrounding clean and staying covered in order to prevent mosquito bites.