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Chikungunya virus

Chikungunya virus infection; Chikungunya

Chikungunya is a virus passed to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever and severe joint pain. The name chikungunya (pronounced "chik-en-gun-ye") is an African word meaning "bent over in pain."

For the most up-to-date information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) website -- www.cdc.gov/chikungunya.

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Mosquito, adult feeding on the skin

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Where Chikungunya is Found

Before 2013, the virus was found only in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific oceans. In late 2013, outbreaks occurred for the first time in the Americas in the Caribbean Islands.

In the Americas, local transmission of the disease has been found in 44 countries and territories. This means that mosquitoes in those areas have the virus and are spreading it to humans.

Since 2014, the disease has been found in travelers coming to the United States from affected areas in the Americas. Local transmission has occurred in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

How Chikungunya Can Spread

Mosquitoes spread the virus to humans. Mosquitoes pick up the virus when they feed on infected people. They spread the virus when they bite other people.

The mosquitoes that spread chikungunya are the same type that spread dengue fever, which has similar symptoms. These mosquitoes most often feed on humans during the day.

Symptoms

Symptoms develop 3 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The disease is easily spread. Most people who become infected have symptoms.

The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms include:

Symptoms are similar to the flu and can be severe, but usually not deadly. Most people recover in a week. Some have joint pain for months or longer. The disease can lead to death in frail older adults.

Treatment

There is no treatment for chikungunya. Like the flu virus, it has to run its course. You can take steps to help relieve symptoms:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of chikungunya. Let your provider know if you have traveled recently in an area where the virus is spread. Your provider may do a blood test to check for the disease.

Prevention

There is no vaccine to protect against chikungunya. The best way to avoid getting the virus is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. If you are in an area where there is local transmission of the virus, take these steps to protect yourself:

If you get chikungunya, try to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes so you do not pass the virus to others.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Chikungunya virus. www.cdc.gov/chikungunya. Updated December 17, 2018. Accessed May 29, 2019.

Dockrell DH, Sundar S, Angus BJ, Hobson RP. Infectious disease. In: Ralston SH, Penman ID, Strachan MWJ, Hobson RP, eds. Davidson's Principles and Practice of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 11.

Khabbaz R, Bell BP, Schuchat A, et al. Emerging and reemerging infectious disease threats. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 14.

Rothe C, Jong EC. Emerging infectious diseases and the international traveler. In: Sanford CA, Pottinger PS, Jong EC, eds. The Travel and Tropical Medicine Manual. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 3.

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Review Date: 5/10/2019  

Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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