Chikungunya VirusMosquito-borne diseases that involve the transmission of viruses and parasites from animal-to-animal, animal-to-person, or person-to-person is a growing problem to mankind. There are several reports now stating that the mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus is spreading across the Caribbean and portions of the Americas at an alarming rate.

According to a report published in the June 6 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, since December 2013 when the World Health Organization (WHO) first reported local transmission of mosquito-borne chikungunya virus in the Western Hemisphere, this disease has been detected in 17 Caribbean or South America countries or territories.

The Chikungunya virus is a debilitating virus that causes severe joint pain, muscle pain, fever, and rashes. Transmitted primarily by two mosquitoes that carry the virus, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, this fever is rarely fatal, but the joint pain can last more than a month in some cases.

Chikungunya Prevalence — Alarming Statistics

Federal health officials in the report said that the number of reported cases had nearly doubled in the past two weeks and there are now more than 100,000 suspected or confirmed infections. They predicted more rampant spread of the virus.

Further findings in the report include:

  • As of May 30, 2014, a total of 103,018 suspected and 4,406 laboratory-confirmed chikungunya cases have been reported from the areas.
  • More than 95% of the cases were reported from five jurisdictions: Dominican Republic (38,656 cases), Martinique (30,715), Guadeloupe (24,428), Haiti (6,318), and Saint Martin (4,113).
  • The highest incidences have been reported from Saint Martin (115 cases per 1,000 population), Martinique (76 per 1,000), Saint Barthelemy (74 per 1,000), and Guadeloupe (52 per 1,000).

Treatment Aimed at Relieving Symptoms

However, no effective vaccine has been developed to prevent chikungunya and the treatment is primarily aimed at relieving the symptoms, such as fever and joint pain. Treatments prescribed include fluids, NSAIDs, corticosteroids, physiotherapy and plenty of rest. The government has urged healthcare providers to report suspected cases of chikungunya to their state or local health department. This will facilitate early diagnosis and lessen the risk of local transmission of the disease. Lab diagnosis for chikungunya virus infection involves testing serum or plasma to detect virus, viral nucleic acid, or virus-specific immunoglobulin (Ig) M and neutralizing antibodies. Chikungunya virus is to be handled under biosafety level (BSL) 3 conditions; chikungunya viral RNA can often be identified in serum during the initial eight days of illness. The viral antibodies usually develop toward the end of the first week of illness. To rule out the diagnosis completely, convalescent-phase samples must be collected from patients whose acute-phase samples test negative.

Medical Billing Codes for Chikungunya

Medical diagnosis and treatment for such hemorrhagic fever can be billed using current medical codes such as:

ICD-9

065.4 – Mosquito-borne hemorrhagic fever
Chikungunya hemorrhagic fever
Dengue hemorrhagic fever

066.3 – Other mosquito-borne fever
Fever (viral): Bunyamwera, Bwamba, Chikungunya, Guama, Mayaro, Mucambo, O’Nyong-Nyong, Oropouche, Pixuna, Rift valley, Ross river, Wesselsbron, Zika

ICD-10

A92.0 – Chikungunya virus disease
Chikungunya (hemorrhagic) fever

Through eligibility verifications and pre-authorizations, specialists providing treatment for the symptoms associated with this fever can make sure that treatments given are covered and will be reimbursed.

Persons infected with the chikungunya virus should be protected from mosquito exposure to prevent further spread of the virus. Occasional cases of eye, neurological and heart complications have been reported, as well as gastrointestinal complaints. There is also a risk that the virus will be spread to new areas by infected travelers.