Chikungunya fever is widespread and can be found mainly in Africa, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and the Philippines. Outbreaks are common and often occur after the rainy seasons when mosquitoes breed more actively. Occasionally, the virus can be found in other countries where the mosquito that spreads chikungunya can also be found.
In December 2013, chikunguyna virus was introduced for the first time in Saint Martin. An outbreak followed that subsequently spread throughout the Caribbean islands and parts of the Americas.
The cause is a virus spread by the Aedes aegypti species of mosquitoe which predominantly bites during the day.
The incubation period can be 2-12 days, but is normally 3-7 days. Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, muscle pain, rash and joint pain. Within a few days the illness usually resolves and serious complications are uncommon.
There is no specific anti-viral treatment for chikungunya virus infection. Symptoms like headache and fever can be treated symptomatically. Hospital care is indicated in severe illnesses or if complications occur.
Recommendations for Travellers
The best way to avoid infection is to prevent prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellents and wearing appropriate clothing. Medical attention must be sought for any feverish illness experienced whilst travelling or on your return home.
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