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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 141  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 591-597

Chikungunya outbreak in Garo Hills, Meghalaya: An epidemiological perspective

Regional Medical Research Centre (ICMR), Dibrugarh, Assam, India

Correspondence Address:
Siraj Ahmed Khan
Arbovirology Group/Entomology and Filariasis Division, Regional Medical Research Centre, ICMR, (NE Region).P.O. Box # 105, Dibrugarh 786 001, Assam
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-5916.159521

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Background & objectives: Chikungunya (CHIK) fever is a mosquito-borne disease caused by chikungunya virus (CHIKV). Chikungunya infection was first reported from India in 1963 from Kolkata. We report the serological and molecular evidence of an outbreak of chikungunya in northeast India that occurred in Tura, a hilly and forested terrain in Garo Hills district of Meghalaya. Methods: Blood samples (3 ml) collected from hospitalized patients during the outbreak were tested for IgM antibodies against CHIKV and followed up four months later. A repeat survey was carried out in the same area after four months from where cases had been reported. Blood samples were also collected from people with history of fever and body ache in the last four months. Persons showing IgM positivity against CHIKV in the repeat survey were followed up one and a half years later. All samples were also processed by RT-PCR assay for CHIK Envelope (E) 1 gene. Immature mosquitoes were collected, link reared and identified with standard keys. Virus incrimination studies were done on Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus mosquitoes collected during the survey. Results: Fever, headache and joint pain were the primary clinical presentations. Twenty three (35.93 %) of 64 samples reported during the outbreak were IgM positive for CHIK. Three samples showed PCR amplification. All these were IgM positive. The sequenced E1 gene revealed that the strains belonged to East Central South African (ECSA) genotype. Interpretation & conclusions: Field survey done after four months revealed that some individuals still had joint pain associated with episodes of headache and fever. It could be inferred that these persons might have contracted infection during the CHIK outbreak four months ago or during the intervening period which caused persistence of sequelae. ECSA genotype was found to be involved in the outbreak. Aedes albopictus was the predominant mosquito species collected during the outbreak.

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