What Is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is a virus that’s spread by mosquitoes. It can’t be passed from person to person.

It’s been seen in as many as 60 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas, but chikungunya is rare in the United States. Only 175 cases have been reported here since 2016, and they were all people who’d been to affected areas.

How Do I Know If I Have It?

Signs of chikungunya usually show up 3 to 7 days after you’re bitten. They typically include fever and joint pain, but you also might have a headache, nausea, or a rash and be very tired.

It can be hard to know for sure that you have chikungunya because it can look like other illnesses spread by mosquitoes, such as dengue fever or Zika virus.

See your doctor if you have these symptoms and have been somewhere that’s recently had an outbreak. He’ll probably take a sample of your blood to check for signs that your body is fighting off the virus.

What’s the Treatment?

There’s no real treatment for chikungunya. Most people get better on their own and recover completely. Many of the symptoms usually improve within a week, but joint pain can last a few months. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen will help with that and any fever you may have. You also should drink plenty of liquids and get a lot of rest.

The virus is typically harder on newborns, people over 65, and people who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. If you or someone you know has symptoms and is in one of these groups, call your doctor right away.

Lower Your Risk for Mosquito Bites

If you’re going to a place that has an outbreak, you can do some things to lower your chances of being bitten by mosquitoes:

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants.
  • Stay in screened-in areas, or indoors where there’s air conditioning.
  • If you’re in a place with no air conditioning or screens in the windows, make sure there’s a mosquito net over your bed.
  • If you go outside without sleeves, wear a mosquito repellant that has DEET. If you need to wear sunscreen, put that on first.
  • Dump out any standing water in things like flower pots in your house or hotel room.

If you’ve had chikungunya before, you’re not likely to get it again.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on March 08, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “What is chikungunya fever, and should I be worried?”

World Health Organization: “Chikungunya: Fact Sheet.”

CDC: Chikungunya Virus: “Transmission,” “Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment,” “Prevention,” “2016 Provisional Data For The United States.”

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