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Dengue and chikungunya can lead to rheumatoid arthritis

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NEW DELHI: Patients of Chikungunya should consult an orthopedic doctor if symptoms continue to appear even after some weeks.

Mosquito-borne infections - Dengue and Chikungunya - can lead to Rheumatoid Arthritis in about 20 percent patients, say senior orthopedic experts on the eve of World Arthritis Day.

Dr. (Prof.) Raju Vaishya, president of Arthritis Care Foundation and Senior Consultant, Department of Orthopedics, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, said, “Eighty percent patients with Dengue and Chikungunya became symptom free at the end of four months of treatment but in 20 percent patients, Rheumatoid Arthritis developed”

According to the Directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), Dengue cases in India are up by 11,832 over last year. According to (NVBDCP), till July 30, 2016, the total dengue cases in the country were 16,870 while for the same period in 2017 they numbered 28,702. Till July 30, 2017, India saw a total of 18,466 cases of chikungunya.

Dr. Vaishya said that dengue virus and chikungunya virus (CHIKV) irritates our immune system and this results in development of RA in about 20 percent patients. He said that patients of Chikungunya should consult an orthopedic doctor if symptoms continue to appear after some weeks.

Dr. Sujeet Kumar Singh, Deputy Director General, Indian Health Ministry, said, “Patients with Dengue and CHIKV infection should be closely monitored to identify those with chronic arthritis who would benefit from a rheumatologic evaluation and early treatment with disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).”

Dr. Amit Kumar Agarwal, Professor and Consultant orthopedic surgery said, “Chronic manifestations of CHIKV infection may resemble those of some autoimmune connective tissue diseases. Furthermore, CHIKV infection can cause cryoglobulinemia and may induce rheumatoid arthritis and seronegative spondyloarthropathies in genetically susceptible individuals.”

Dr. Vaishya said that Rheumatoid Arthritis and Chikungunya virus have similar symptoms, which can cause misdiagnosis. The main symptom of Chikungunya virus is joint pain and swelling, which is also a characteristic of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Dr. Sujeet Kumar Singh said that the chikungunya name describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain; meaning “to become contorted”.

The disease causes flu-like symptoms that can last for months. Majority of cases recover fully and death is usually due to severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and loss of glycemic control. There is currently no treatment or vaccine for the virus and with its rapid spread time is of the essence.

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