A mosquito bites a person

What is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya (chik-un-GUN-yuh) is an infection caused by a virus that spreads to people from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Chikungunya can cause severe joint and muscle pain. Many people recover within a few weeks, but others can have pain that lasts for months or years after the infection. Chikungunya rarely leads to serious problems or death.

How Common is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya was once found only in Africa and Asia. But since the early 2000s, chikungunya has spread to more than 100 countries in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Infected travelers can spread the virus to unaffected areas when mosquitoes pick up the virus by biting an infected person.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.

Symptoms usually begin 3–7 days after an infected mosquito bites you.

Those at risk for more severe disease include newborns infected around the time of birth, adults age 65 years and older, and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.

Most patients feel better within a week; however, joint pain can be severe and disabling and may last for months.

Prevention

Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites, primarily during the day. When traveling to countries with chikungunya virus:

  • Use insect repellent on exposed skin
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or use window and door screens

A chikungunya vaccine is approved in the US for adults age 18 years and older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends chikungunya vaccine for:

The chikungunya vaccine also may be used for the following people who are traveling to countries or territories that have had chikungunya cases within the last 5 years:

  • Older adults (age 65 years and older), especially those with underlying medical conditions
  • People who are staying for long periods of time (total of 6 months or more)

Talk with a trusted healthcare professional to find out whether chikungunya vaccination is recommended for you.

Treatment

There is currently no medicine to treat chikungunya. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms:

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of water or other fluids
  • Take acetaminophen or paracetamol to reduce pain and fever
    • Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen until dengue can be ruled out to reduce bleeding risk

 

Reviewed March 2024

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

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