Chikungunya

Type: Viral

Geography: Africa, Asia, India, the Americas

Cases Per Year: 300,000

Fatality Rate: < 1%

First Discovered: 1952 in Tanzania

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitos. Onset of illness occurs usually between 4 and 8 days after the bite. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and rash. Joint pain is often debilitating and can vary in duration. The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue and zika and can be misdiagnosed in areas where they are common.

Most patients fully recover, but in some cases, joint pain may persist for up to a few years. Occasional cases of eye, neurological, and heart complications have been reported. Serious complications are not common, but in older people, the disease can contribute to the cause of death. There is no cure for the disease, so treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms. The proximity of mosquito breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for chikungunya.

The virus has been identified in over 60 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Basic precautions should be taken by people living in or traveling to risk areas including using repellents, wearing long sleeves and long pants, and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitos from entering.

Photo: Chikungunya virus – Electron micrograph.