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What is Chikungunya?


Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease.  The name comes from the Kimakonde language, in Tanzania and means “to become contorted”. Clinical symptoms are similar to those of Dengue Fever.  Patients experience an abrupt onset of fever and severe joint pain.  The disease is spread human to human through the bite of infected mosquitos.  This mosquito is commonly found during the day, and has peak feeding times in the early morning or late afternoon.

What are the symptoms?

Symptom onset varies but usually occurs between 2-12 days.  Symptoms include: muscle pain, joint pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.   Chikungunya is diagnosed based on risk of exposure, symptoms, physical findings and laboratory testing.

There is no vaccine prevention or cure for the disease; symptoms are treated and the disease must run its course.

Most patients fully recover however some do experience residual joint pain for months or years.  There have been cases of complications reported, with neurological, heart and gastrointestinal problems.  In rare cases and usually in older people the disease can cause death.

Where is it found?

Chikungunya was first discovered in Tanzania.  It most commonly occurs in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent.


What you can do to protect yourself:

There is no vaccine to protect you against Chikungunya.  Please see our page on Protection against insect bites.

Reducing the amount of natural and artificial water in containers around will help reduce the amount of mosquitoes.  Make sure you use insect precautions and where long sleeves and pants during peak feeding times if you need to be outdoors.

Seek travel health advice prior to travel to learn about protection against mosquito bites and what to watch out for.

An informed traveller is a healthy traveller.

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