Chikungunya? What Is It?

Chikungunya Preparedness

River Region Pest Control can help reduce mosquito populations as part of a comprehensive Chikungunya response, control, and preparedness plan in the Montgomery River Region.

Chikungunya Virus in Montgomery, Alabama
Chikungunya virus was first documented in 1952 in East Africa.

Chikungunya Virus

The Chikungunya (pronounced: chik·un·gun·ya) virus is transmitted to people by mosquitoes and can result in a fever and pain in the joints as well as a number of other symptoms.

While it rarely becomes a serious illness, the symptoms are not pleasant and can leave people ill for days.

Chikungunya Virus World Map 2015-10-20
Countries and territories where chikungunya cases have been reported. ¹ (as of October 20, 2015)

¹ Does not include countries or territories where only imported cases have been documented. This map is updated weekly if there are new countries or territories that report local chikungunya virus transmission.

History and Origin

The Chikungunya virus was first catalogued in 1952 in East Africa.

Since then, cases have been found in Asia, Europe, and on a number of islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans. While no cases were found in the United States for years, in 2013, cases were reported in the Caribbean.

From there, the virus spread to North America, South America, and Central America.

Chikungunya is now considered a world-wide virus, and cases have been reported in many countries.

Learn how to pronounce “Chikungunya” (Duration: 21 seconds):

How it Spreads

The virus spreads via mosquito – specifically, the Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti (also known as the Asian tiger mosquito and yellow fever mosquito, respectively)

Once a human is infected, other mosquitos can bite them and become infected as well, leading to the virus spreading.

However, Chikungunya is not contagious from person to person, although there have been some rare instances where the Chikungunya virus was transmitted from mother to child.

It may also be possible for Chikungunya to spread via blood transfusion, but this hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Chikungunya Fever in Montgomery, Alabama

Symptoms

Those who become infected by the Chikungunya virus usually begin to see symptoms between three and seven days.

The common symptoms include joint pain and fever, although those who are infected may also experience a rash, joint swelling, headache, and muscle pain. Rarely, they may begin to experience eye problems or even inflammation of one of the major organs, including the brain, the heart, or the kidneys.

While this can be very serious, it often isn’t serious enough that it results in death.

Those who are already dealing with health problems, are over 65, or are very young are at the highest risk. The elderly, in fact, can actually die from Chikungunya, although that is very rare.

Chikungunya is diagnosed by a blood test.

Symptoms are very similar to dengue fever, but a blood test can confirm which of the two viruses is the cause.

Treatment

There is no treatment or remedy for Chikungunya infections because the illness is caused by a virus rather than bacteria.

Taking over-the-counter medications to reduce the pain and fever, drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and getting plenty of rest is the only way of treating the Chikungunya virus.

The symptoms usually begin to diminish about seven days after they first appear, but the joint pain can last for months in some people.

Mosquito Breeding Ground in Montgomery, Alabama
Eliminating standing water helps avoid mosquito breeding environments.

Prevention

There is no vaccine for the Chikungunya virus.

The only way to avoid getting infected is by reducing the number of mosquitoes in the area and by eliminating pools of standing water (areas mosquitoes breed).

People may also want to wear long sleeved shirts, pants, and use insect repellant when going outdoors during rainy periods.

If someone does come down with a Chikungunya virus infection, they should attempt to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes because that can spread the virus.