Chikungunya is a viral infection caused by the CHIK virus belonging to the Togaviridae family. The virus is transmitted through the bite of infected daytime biting female – primarily Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus – mosquitoes. They usually bite during the early morning and late afternoon, and are typically found in and around urban and suburban dwellings. Some mosquitoes that transmit Chikungunya in Africa also live in forested areas. Monkeys and other wild animals are also believed to be reservoirs or carriers of the virus.
Travellers going to the Caribbean, Central America, South America, sub-Saharan Africa, southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent are at risk, especially during the rainy season. Isolated cases of locally acquired Chikungunya have occurred in the USA, Italy and France.
In some cases, Chikungunya is asymptomatic – persons do not exhibit symptoms. Those with symptoms usually get ill 3-12 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms include sudden fever and severe muscle and joint pain. They can be accompanied by headache, fatigue nausea, vomiting, and a rash. Although most patients fully recover, chronic joint pain may last for several weeks or months. Other persistent problems may include eye, gastrointestinal, neurological, and heart complications. Persons with chronic health conditions, a weakened immune system, infants, and older persons are at risk of developing complications with this infection. Chikungunya is rarely fatal. Treatment includes supportive care of symptoms. There is no antiviral treatment available.
If you have had Chikungunya in the past, you are immune to subsequent infections. Chikungunya virus can be misdiagnosed for
Zika Virus or Dengue.
Travellers should take meticulous measures to prevent mosquito bites during the daytime.
Use a repellent containing 20%-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin on exposed skin. Re-apply according to manufacturer's directions.