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Chikungunya Fact Sheet


WHO/PAHO

Chikungunya Fact Sheet

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Chikungunya is a viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes.

It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.

The disease is transmitted by the same mosquitoes involved in the dengue transmission (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus); also shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.

There is no cure for the disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.

The proximity of mosquito breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for chikungunya.

Symptoms

Chikungunya is characterised by an abrupt onset of fever frequently accompanied by joint pain, other symptoms or pain during chronic phase can include fatigue and depression. In addition, it includes muscle pain, headache, nausea, and rash.

Most patients recover fully, but in some cases the joint pain may be chronic. Serious complications are not common, but in older people, children and pregnant women the disease can get worse.  

The virus is transmitted by the bites of infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitos, both present in the Americas. After the bite of an infected mosquito, onset of illness occurs usually between three and seven days but can range from two to 12 days.

Chikungunya must be distinguished from dengue. While both diseases patients may have diffuse body pain, having Chikungunya the pain is much more intense and localised in the joints and tendons than dengue.

There are no specific drugs to cure the disease. Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms, including the joint pain. There is no commercial Chikungunya vaccine.

Since 2004, Chikungunya virus has caused massive and sustained outbreaks in Asia and Africa, infecting more than two million people, with attack rates as high as 68 per cent in some areas. This situation can put a sudden and heavy burden on health services.

The proximity of mosquito vector breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for chikungunya as well as for other diseases that these species transmit. 

In 2013, PAHO/WHO received confirmation of the first cases of indigenous transmission of chikungunya in the Americas. Before that, hundred people who have travelled from the Americas to Asia and Africa in the past years have become infected with the chikungunya.

 Protect yourself:

Consult your doctor if you have the following symptoms:

Source: World Health Organisation/Pan American Health Organisation.

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