Understanding Chikungunya

Chikungunya is a virus. It was first found in Africa and Asia in the 1950s, but it has gradually spread to other parts of the world. This includes the Caribbean and the Americas.

How to say it


What causes chikungunya?

You can get the chikungunya virus from the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes that attack during the day are the main carriers of the disease. If they bite an infected person, they can pass the virus on to other people.

What are the symptoms of chikungunya?

Symptoms appear 2 to 4 days after you are bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms include high fever and severe joint pain, often in the hands and feet. This joint pain gives the virus its African name, which means “that which bends up.” Some people may also have:

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle pain

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Joint swelling

  • Rash

How is chikungunya treated?

No medicine is currently available to treat this virus. Treatment is aimed at easing symptoms. Treatments include:

  • Rest. You may feel better faster if you get plenty of rest.

  • Fluids. Drinking lots of fluids will help you stay hydrated. Don’t drink alcohol and beverages with caffeine.

  • Medicine. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease fever and joint pain. Never give aspirin to anyone younger than 18 years of age who is ill with a viral infection or fever. It may cause severe liver or brain damage.

What are possible complications of chikungunya?

Most people who have chikungunya feel better within a week. It rarely results in death. But the joint pain and stiffness may last for months or years after you first get the illness.

Chikungunya can turn into a serious, even life-threatening illness in young children, pregnant women, and older adults. Also, people with other health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes are at higher risk for complications.


When should I call my healthcare provider?

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed

  • Muscle or joint pain that continues for more than 3 to 4 days

  • Headache, confusion, or severe sleepiness

  • New muscle weakness or paralysis