Global Alert and Response (GAR)

Chikungunya in India

17 October 2006

From February 2006 to 10 October 2006, the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia has reported 151 districts in 8 states/provinces of India affected by chikungunya fever (see below). The affected states are Andhra Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Delhi. More than 1.25 million suspected cases have been reported from the country, which 752,245 were from Karnataka and 258,998 from Maharashtra provinces. In some areas reported attack rates have reached 45%.

A team from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, health officials from Kerala and staff from the WHO India Office and Regional Office for South-East Asia investigated the outbreak in Kerala. They carried out clinical and epidemiological examinations of suspected cases in hospitals and at home, and collected clinical samples. An entomological survey revealed high densities of Aedes albopictus in the affected areas as well as in areas not affected by the disease.

For personal protection, individuals should take measures to protect themselves against the bites of the mosquitoes which transmit the virus (including Aedes aegypti), which are active during the daytime. Elimination of breeding sites can contribute to the reduction of mosquito densities. As a result, a key recommendation from the investigation team is for urgent vector control measures coupled with an intensive awareness campaign in the community. Health care staff at all levels, government officials and nongovernmental organizations are called upon to assist in this information and health education campaign. The Communication-for-Behavioural Impact methodology has been successful in mobilizing affected populations for vector control activities.

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