Definition | Causes | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention

Definition

Chikungunya is an infection spread by a bite from an infected mosquito.

Causes

Chikungunya is caused by a virus.

Virus

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

The greatest risk factors for chikungunya are spending time in areas where chikungunya outbreaks have occurred such as:

  • Africa
  • Southern Europe
  • Southeast Asia
  • Islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans
  • Islands in the Caribbean Sea

In 2014, chikungunya was reported among US travelers returning from affected areas. Local transmission of chikungunya occurred in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

Symptoms

Symptoms begin 3-7 days after infection and may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint pain, often in the hands and feet
  • Joint swelling
  • Muscle pain
  • Rash

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will be asked whether you have recently travelled to areas where chikungunya outbreaks have occurred.

Your bodily fluids may be tested for the presence of the virus or antibodies. Antibodies are created by your body in response to an infection. The virus and antibodies can be found with blood tests. Other blood tests may be done to look for complications.

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:

Antibiotics are not needed because the chikungunya is caused by a virus, not bacteria. The goal is to ease the symptoms so that you feel more comfortable while the immune system fights the virus.

Rest and medication will help manage symptoms until the virus has passed. Also, drink plenty of liquids to help keep nasal fluid thin and easy to clear.

Hospitalization may be required in severe cases to help manage symptoms.

Prevention

To help reduce your chances of a chikungunya infection:

  • If possible, avoid travel to areas where chikungunya outbreaks are occurring.
  • Stay inside when mosquitoes are most active (at dawn and at dusk).
  • Repair screens on your windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from getting into your house.
  • Use proper mosquito netting at night. Look for netting treated with insecticide.
  • When outside, wear insect repellent, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts to limit exposure to bites.
  • Eliminate insect breeding areas. These may include areas of standing water, like pet water bowls, rain barrels, and other containers.