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Chikungunya Fever

Introduction

Chikungunya fever is caused by the Chikungunya virus and is spread by mosquito bites that can cause a fever and intense joint pains.

Recommendations for Travellers

The best way to avoid infection is to avoid mosquito bites. As the transmitting mosquitoes bite from dawn until dusk, long loose clothing and repellents should be worn all day. See information about mosquito bite avoidance.

Medical attention must be sought for any feverish illness experienced whilst travelling or on your return home.

There is no vaccine against Chikungunya fever.

Overview of the Disease

Chikungunya is spread by the Aedes species of mosquito which predominantly bite during the day. These mosquitoes also transmit Dengue fever, Zika virus and Yellow Fever.

Chikungunya fever is currently reported in more than 100 countries in Africa, Asia, North, South and Central America, the Caribbean and Pacific islands. Cases have also occasionally occurred in Italy and France but the infection has not become fully established in Europe.

The Illness

Symptoms start 1 to 12 days after the mosquito bite.  A high fever is often accompanied by intense joint pains.  A rash, headache, fatigue, nausea and muscle pains may also occur. The illness usually resolves over a few days and serious complications are uncommon.  However a proportion of people are left with ongoing joint pains ors welling which may continue for weeks to years.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for chikungunya virus infection. Symptoms like fever, joint pain and headache can be treated with painkillers. Ongoing joint pains often need anti-inflammatory medications and may need assessment by a joint specialist.

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