Chikungunya is a virus that is transmitted from one person to another by the bite of an infected female mosquito. After being bitten by an infected mosquito, symptoms of the illness are generally seen between 4 and 8 days later but could possibly be seen as early as 2 days or as late as 12 days after infection.
The symptoms of Chikungunya virus include an abrupt onset of fever along with joint pain, muscle pain, nausea, fatigue, headache and rashes. The virus has the possibility of becoming fatal if not treated.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine for Chikungunya. The aim is for each of the symptoms to be relieved.
The Chikungunya CHIKV test aids in the diagnosis of infection with the Chikungunya virus. The Chikungunya CHIKV test is a simple blood test.
The Chikungunya virus is easily transmitted and has the potential to grow into an epidemic if not contained. It is therefore essential that the virus is detected at an early stage and the necessary care taken to ensure that the virus does not spread and cause fatalities.
Symptoms of infection with this virus include High fevers, pain in joints, nausea, headaches, conjunctivitis and mouth ulcers. Each of these symptoms last for varied periods of time and could be more severe if not treated.
When this test is administered, blood is drawn and tests are conducted on the sample to check for the Chikungunya virus. Some of the possible tests are:
1. Qualitative Real-time RT-PCR
When the symptoms have been seen for less than 8 days, the Chikungunya virus reverse transcriptase(RT)-PCR assay is used to detect CHIKV RNA. This test cannot be used later on since this RNA is not detectable after 1 week.
2. Antibody Tests (IgG, IgM)
When the symptoms have been seen for more than a week, the Chikungunya antibody test is conducted. IgM (Immunoglobulin M) is first seen to develop, followed by IgG (Immunoglobulin G).
If test results come back positive for the presence of the Chikungunya virus or antibodies, then treatment must be started for the symptoms exhibited.
If test results come back negative for the presence of the Chikungunya virus or antibodies, then further tests must be administered to diagnose the cause of the symptoms being experienced.
As with a regular blood test, a health professional will clean the surface of the skin with an antiseptic and will apply pressure to the upper arm which causes the veins to swell. A needle is then inserted into a vein and the blood is drawn and collected in a syringe.
Once the required amount of blood is collected, the needle is removed and the injected area is dressed to stop the bleeding. This procedure takes only a few minutes. The blood then goes through a series of tests to check for the presence of the Chikungunya virus and antibodies.
There are some risks associated with this test. Most of the risks are associated with the cleanliness and sterilization of the equipment. If not properly sterilized, infections may be acquired. Another risk may be fainting or feeling lightheaded due to the loss of blood.
In some cases, the blood may also accumulate under the skin and cause lumps or bruises.
The variables that may affect your test results are your nutritional diet, lifestyle and any other existing medications you're currently on. Doctors should be informed if you're using any supplements or prescription medications before the test is administered.
Sometimes results may be inaccurate if the blood sample is collected too early after infection and may show to be negative for Chikungunya virus when a person is actually infected.
The sample required for this test is a blood sample. This sample is collected from a vein, usually in the arm and is collected in a syringe or vial. This is referred to as venepuncture.
When the Qualitative Real-time RT-PCR is conducted, and the result is positive, the result is that the patient is infected with the Chikungunya virus. On the other hand, if the result is negative, it is not a conclusive result, since the Chikungunya virus RNA is undetectable after a week or so.
Therefore, the antibody test should be run to get a conclusive answer.
When the Antibody test is conducted, there are four possible outcomes.
1. IgM and IgG are both negative: This may be an indication that the patient has not been exposed to the Chikungunya virus. However, the test must be conducted again after a few days to confirm the result.
2. IgM and IgG are both positive: This suggests that the patient has been exposed to the infection in the past or very recently and must be treated for the symptoms.
3. IgM is positive while IgG is negative: This suggests recent infection of the Chikungunya virus. The patient must be tested again after 5 or 10 days to confirm this diagnosis.
4. IgM is negative while IgG is positive: This suggests that the antibodies to the Chikungunya virus exist and therefore confirms past infection
When it comes to blood tests, there aren’t many precautions you need to take. You may be asked to avoid eating or drinking for up to eight hours before the test is administered. Depending on what medications you take, your doctor will inform you whether or not you need to avoid them for some time before the test so that your results aren’t affected.
Doctors should also be informed of other tests you’ve undergone in the recent past, as some substances- such as radioactive substances- may affect the results of the test.
A Reference range is a set of values which helps the healthcare professional to interpret a medical test. It may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Reference ranges may also vary between labs, in value & units depending on instruments used and method of establishment of reference ranges.
Testing for infection with the Chikungunya virus is important to ensure the curbing of epidemics and prevention of fatalities.
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