Chikungunya is a rare viral infection transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. It is characterized by a rash, fever, and severe joint pain (arthralgias) that usually lasts for three to seven days. Because of its effect on the joints, Chikungunya has been classified among the Arthritic Viruses. It primarily occurs in tropical areas of the world.
The early symptoms of Chikungunya include fever, headache, and joint pain (arthralgias) that may be so severe that they may be disabling. The knees, elbows, wrists, ankles, and/or fingers are generally effected. Joint pain increases with movement and is worse in the morning. However, it may take several weeks before the symptoms improve. Chikungunya is not associated with permanent joint damage.
Other symptoms may include abnormal sensitivity to light (photophobia), sore throat, lack of appetite (anorexia), and vomiting. Backache and rash on the face and neck are also common in people with Chikungunya. Occasionally the membranes that line the eyes may become inflamed (conjunctivitis) and lymph glands may become swollen (lymphadenopathy). The fever usually subsides before the 10th day.
Chikungunya is an infectious tropical disease caused by a virus that belongs to the group of A arboviruses. It is transmitted by various species of mosquitoes. Monkeys may also be infected with this virus. Some cases of this infection appear to have occurred through casual human to human contact, but it is not known how it is transmitted among humans.
Chikungunya is a viral disease that affects males and females in equal numbers. It primarily affects children and young adults in Africa, Southeast Asia, and India. A large outbreak of Chikungunya occurred in Tanganyika, Africa in 1953. This disorder is rare outside of tropical areas of the world.
The diagnosis of Chikungunya may be confirmed by a specialized blood test that detects immune responses to the virus (ELISA test). The symptoms of Chikungunya improve spontaneously after several weeks. There is no specific treatment. However, bed rest and antiinflammatory medications (i.e., ibuprofen) may be useful. As with other viral diseases, antibiotics are not effective in treating this disease.
Information on current clinical trials is posted on the Internet at www.clinicaltrials.gov. All studies receiving U.S. government funding, and some supported by private industry, are posted on this government web site.
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Research is being conducted to develop a live attenuated vaccine that would protect against Chikungunya. For more information about these disorders, contact the World Health Organization (WHO) listed in the Resources section below.
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