The hobblers' club


Do you know how many joints there are in the human body? I do. There are 230 of them. How do I know this? No, I am not an orthopaedician. I know the number because for the last three months I have felt the pain in every one of them (or so it seemed), thanks to becoming a member of an exclusive club. It’s called the Club of Chikungunya Sufferers.

Despite how it sounds, the disease has nothing to do with poultry. It is a viral affliction transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. The disease is apparently a gift from Africa. The Wikipedia tells me that Chikungunya means “that which bends up” in the Makonde language. This refers to the stooped posture developed as a result of the arthritic symptoms of the disease. Now I know why I felt and looked like a nonagenarian during the first month of the affliction!

The Makonde Plateau lies along the border between Mozambique and Tanzania and that was where the disease was first identified  during an outbreak in the early 50s.

Bangalore has two types of swarms — one composed of IT persons and the other of mosquitoes. The former multiply in the dozens of engineering colleges in the state; the latter breed in the numerous lakes and waste dumps around the city. I remember the time when, at the old airport, located next to a lake, one would be slapping oneself all over the place in some sort of a St Vitus Dance, thanks to the Dracula-type insects trying to get at one’s blood.

We Bangaloreans have always been familiar with good old mosquito-borne Malaria and Dengue. Chikungunya is a relative newcomer. Fortunately, it is not supposed to be fatal. But it sure is painful. Most of the conversation among Chikungunya club members centres around what is to be done to relieve the arthritic pain.

The disease seems to be spreading fairly rapidly. I was surprised at how many of my friends and relatives had been hit by it. Looks like my club might not remain so exclusive after all.

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