Diagnosis of Chikungunya Fever

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Mar 18, 2011

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Chikungunya is a viral infection that is spread through mosquito bites. Since clinical symptoms of chikungunya are very similar to dengue, most of its cases are misdiagnosed.  The best way to diagnose Chikungunya disease is to get a laboratory test done. On presence of the following symptoms one must immediately take professional advice and go for laboratory test.

  • Rash on torso and limbs.
  • Severe joint pain or arthritis.

Some other non-specific symptoms of chikungunya include:

  • Headache.
  • Conjunctival Infection.
  • Slight photophobia (sensitivity to light).
  • Fever up to 104 °F.

Laboratory tests for diagnosis of chikungunya fever

Virus isolation:

Virus isolation test gives the most accurate results for chikungunya.  This test is carried out in Biosafety Level 3 laboratories and takes one to two weeks for completion. Blood sample of 2 to 5 ml is taken in the very first week of the onset of the disease. The procedure of the test involves, exposing specific cell lines to the collected blood sample to identify the responses of chikungunya virus. Technically speaking the cytopathic effects of CHIK virus is tested.

Reverse Transcription-PCR :

Reverse transcriptase is a recent technique used for diagnosis of CHIK virus. The results of the test can be determined in a time frame of 1 to 2 days. This test makes use of nested primer pairs to amplify specific genes of chikungunya. Many studies have shown that RT-PCR detects acute infections in humans in a reliable manner.

Serological Diagnosis:

Serological diagnosis requires 10 to 15 ml of blood sample that must be collected immediately after the onset of symptoms of chikungunya.

Serological diagnosis makes use of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technique for measuring specific IgM levels of Chikungunya, wherein the blood sample is stored and transported at 4 degrees. In case the test cannot be conducted immediately, the blood specimen should be stored in frozen form. The results can be obtained within 2 to 3 days of the test.


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