Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease that causes extreme joint pain, has emerged as a bigger threat than dengue for people living in north India than those in southern states that have had their share of outbreaks over the past decades. The reason is simple: people in north India don’t have much immunity against this viral infection that rarely kills but causes severe pain that can last for years after recovery. Spread by the Aedes egypti mosquito that also causes dengue, chikungunya will hit people in the north harder over the next few years till the population develop immunity against the virus.
“Once you get exposed to the infection, you develop immunity for life, and people down south have mostly got immunity against chikungunya,” says Dr P Jambulingam, director, vector control research centre (VCRC) in Puducherry.
“However, in places where earlier the disease wasn’t common, now we see higher number of infections as people travel and aedes mosquitoes that act as carriers have also spread to all places. It will be some time before the numbers start coming down elsewhere.”
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