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Woman loses eyesight after chikungunya mosquito bites her; first case in UK

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 3:36 IST

A 69-year-old woman in the United Kingdom has permanently lost some of the vision in her right eye after she caught chikungunya fever while vacationing in the Caribbean.

How did it happen?

  • A new report of the woman's case suggests that vision problems may be an under reported effect of the mosquito-transmitted virus. "Sight-threatening visual loss can be a late complication of infection with chikungunya," said Dr Abhijit Mohite, who treated the woman and co-authored the report of her case.
  • Mohite said that it is important that people with vision problems get treatment early, to prevent lasting vision loss. He stated that the woman had visited the Caribbean island of Grenada in July 2014. During her stay, she was bitten by mosquitoes, and developed a flu-like illness, fever, rashes and joint pain.
  • Although the illness of the woman, who returned home to the UK that August, appeared to go away, she began having trouble seeing with her right eye.
  • Mohite said that her main symptom was that she felt she could not see the lower half of her vision in the right eye this had come about only a day before she came to see us, and about three weeks after she returned from Grenada.
  • Two days after her initial visit, a blood test showed the woman had chikungunya. But the doctors still had to rule out other possible causes of her vision loss.
  • During the six days that it took for the doctors to run all the tests and prescribe the steroids, about half of the nerve cells in woman's optic nerve died. The steroids decreased the inflammation, but couldn't undo all of the damage.
  • Mohite also claimed that this is the first known case of a woman in the UK developing this problem.

(with inputs from PTI)

First published: 9 August 2015, 5:41 IST