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Chikungunya

Chikungunya is a viral disease that is transmitted to people by mosquitoes that most commonly causes fever and severe joint pain.

 

How is it transmitted?

  • Chikungunya is transmitted to humans by the bite of Aedes species of mosquitoes
  • These mosquitoes bite mostly during the daytime

 

Who is at risk for the disease?

  • People have acquired the disease in Africa, Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, and islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans
  • In late 2013, chikungunya was found for the first time on islands in the Caribbean
  • Travelers who go to the islands in the Caribbean are at risk of getting chikungunya. In addition, travelers to Africa, Asia, islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific, and many areas of Central and South America are also at risk as the virus is present in many of these areas. The mosquito that carries chikungunya virus can bite during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors, and often lives around buildings in urban areas. Travelers to these areas should take precautions to reduce mosquito exposure.
  • CDC advises travelers in high-risk groups to discuss their travel plans with their health care provider. These groups include the following:
    1. People who have arthritis
    2. People with serious underlying medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes)
    3. People older than 65.
    4. Women who are late in their pregnancies because of the risk to babies born at the time their mother is sick.
    5. Long-term travelers, including missionaries and humanitarian aid workers and people visiting friends and relatives.
    6. People who might have difficulty avoiding mosquito bites, such as those planning to spend a lot of time outdoors or staying in rooms without window screens or air conditioning. 

What are the symptoms?

  • Symptoms usually begin 3-7 (range, 2-12 days) days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
  • The most common symptoms are sudden onset of fever(temperature typically higher than 102°F [39°C]) and severe joint pains, often in the hands and feet.
  • Other symptoms may include rash, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and myalgias.
  • Fevers typically last from several days up to 1 week; the fever can be biphasic. Joint symptoms are severe and often debilitating. They are usually symmetric and occur most commonly in hands and feet, but they can affect more proximal joints. Rash usually occurs after onset of fever. It is typically maculopapular, involving the trunk and extremities, but can also include palms, soles, and face.

 

How long does the illness last?

  • Most patients feel better within a week
  • Chikungunya disease rarely results in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling. In some people, the joint pain may last for months or years.
  • People at increased risk for severe disease include newborns exposed during delivery, older adults (>65 years), and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.

 

What should I do if I have symptoms?

  • Contact your health care provider.
  • No specific antiviral treatment is available for chikungunya fever. Treatment is for symptoms and can include rest, fluids, and use of medicines to help reduce fever and pain.
  • Infected people should be protected from further mosquito exposure (staying indoors in areas with screens or under a mosquito net) during the first few days of the illness so they do not contribute to the transmission cycle.

 

How is it diagnosed?

Preliminary diagnosis is based on the patient’s clinical features, places and dates of travel, and activities. Laboratory diagnosis is generally accomplished by testing serum or plasma to detect virus, viral nucleic acid, or virus-specific immunoglobulin M and neutralizing antibodies. CLICK HERE for more information about diagnostic testing from CDC.

 

How can I prevent chikungunya infections?

  • There is no vaccine or medication to prevent chikungunya virus infection or disease.
  • Reduce mosquito exposure:
    1. Use air conditioning or window/door screens
    2. Use mosquito repellents on exposed skin
    3. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
    4. Wear permethrin-treated clothing
    5. Empty standing water from outdoor containers
    6. Support local vector control programs
  • People at increased risk for severe disease should consider not traveling to areas with ongoing chikungunya outbreaks.
  • If you are sick with chikungunya, avoiding mosquito bites will help prevent further spread of the virus.

Additional Resources

Chikungunya, General Information (CDC)

Travel Notices(CDC)

Chikungunya Information for Travelers and Travel Health Providers (CDC)

Protection against Mosquitos (CDC)

 

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