Chikungunya fever is a debilitating, but non-fatal, viral illness. It is spread by the bite of infected female Aedes aegypti mosquito. Aedes mosquito breeds in clean water collections. The water containers, tanks, discarded material such as buckets, utensils, tyres, flower-pots etc. are the breeding sites for these mosquitoes. The peak biting times of the Aedes aegypti mosquito are early morning or late evening. Chikungunya fever is caused by a virus of genus alphavirus in the family of togaviridae. It is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g. joint swelling), laboratory testing and the possibility of exposure to infected mosquitoes. There is no specific treatment for Chikungunya fever. The treatment is mainly supportive to ease the symptoms.
The content of this module has been validated by Dr. Indu Grewal, Central health Education Bureau New Delhi , on 3rd November 2014.
It is generally characterized by abrupt onset of fever, chills which is accompanied by joint pain. Other symptoms include:
Chikungunya virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person infected with Chikungunya virus. The incubation period (time from infection to illness) can be 2-12 days, but is usually 3-7 days. “Silent” Chikungunya virus infections (infections without illness) do occur, though rarely.
The clinical appearance of both chikungunya and dengue are similar. Therefore laboratory confirmation is important especially in areas where dengue is present. Enzyme-Linked Immuno-sorbent Assay (ELISA) may confirm the presence of IgM and IgG anti-Chikungunya antibodies.
Various reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR) methods are also available but are of variable sensitivity. RT–PCR products from clinical samples may also be used for genotyping of the virus, allowing comparisons with virus samples from various geographical sources.
There is no specific treatment for chikungunya. Only supportive treatment is given to ease the symptoms
There is neither chikungunya virus vaccine nor drugs are available to cure the infection. Prevention from mosquito bites is the key. Eliminating mosquito breeding sites is another key prevention measure.
Prevention is similar to those for other viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, such as dengue: