Chikungunya

What is chikungunya?

Chikungunya is an infection caused by a virus that you can get from a mosquito bite.

What is the cause?

Infected Aedes mosquitoes can pass the virus to you when they bite you. Aedes mosquitoes have been found in the Caribbean, Africa, Southern Europe, and Southeast Asia. This kind of mosquito tends to bite during daytime.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms usually start 3 to 7 days after you are bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Joint pain, often in the hands and feet
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rash
  • Muscle pain

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. You may have blood tests.

How is it treated?

Symptoms usually last a few days to a few weeks, but you may feel tired for several weeks. Some people have joint pain that lasts for a long time.

There is no medicine that cures chikungunya. In most cases you can care for yourself at home.

If you have a serious infection, you may need to stay at the hospital. You may be given IV fluids, pain relievers, or other treatments. You are more at risk for a serious infection if you are over the age of 65, or have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or other medical problems.

How can I take care of myself?

Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. In addition:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Take nonprescription pain medicine, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, you should not take these medicines for more than 10 days.
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age.
    • Acetaminophen may cause liver damage or other problems. Unless recommended by your provider, don’t take more than 3000 milligrams (mg) in 24 hours. To make sure you don’t take too much, check other medicines you take to see if they also contain acetaminophen. Ask your provider if you need to avoid drinking alcohol while taking this medicine.

Ask your provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • If there are activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

How can I help prevent chikungunya?

Take these precautions to avoid mosquito bites:

  • If you are planning to travel:
    • Schedule travel to tropical areas during seasons when mosquitoes are less active. Try to postpone travel if there are outbreaks of chikungunya
    • Stay in places that are clean, insect free, and have air conditioning or well-screened windows.
  • Avoid wearing perfume or other scented products because they can attract mosquitoes.
  • Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Use an insect repellent whenever you are outdoors. Don’t use more repellent than recommended in the package directions. Don’t put repellent on open wounds or rashes. Don’t put it near your eyes or mouth. When using sprays for the skin, don’t spray the repellent directly on your face. Spray the repellent on your hands first and then put it on your face. Then wash the spray off your hands.
    • Adults should use repellent products with no more than 35% DEET. Wash it off your body when you go back indoors.
    • Picaridin may irritate the skin less than DEET and appears to be just as effective.
    • Spray clothes with repellents because mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Products containing permethrin are recommended for use on clothing, shoes, bed nets, and camping gear. Permethrin-treated clothing repels and kills ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects and can keep working after laundering. Permethrin should be reapplied to clothing according to the instructions on the product label. Some commercial products are available pretreated with permethrin. Permethrin does not work as a repellent when it is put on the skin.
    • In some studies, oil of lemon eucalyptus, a plant-based repellent, provided as much protection as repellents with low concentrations of DEET, but it hasn’t been as well tested as DEET. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under age 3.
  • Install or repair window and door screens so it is harder for mosquitoes to get indoors.
  • Mosquitoes lay eggs in water. To reduce mosquito breeding, drain standing water. Routinely empty water from flowerpots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, cans, and other items that collect water.

You can get more information from:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-23
Last reviewed: 2014-07-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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