Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya Fever - Situation Information

Since 2006, parts of Europe, Asia and the Indian Ocean region have reported chikungunya fever activity. Several countries have increased surveillance for this disease, and cases continue to be reported throughout this region.
Chikungunya fever is a disease caused by a virus that is spread to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Symptoms can include sudden fever, joint pain with or without swelling, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, lower back pain, and a rash or skin irritation that may be red, itch, or spread from one area to another. Chikungunya mainly occurs in areas of Africa and Asia. In 2007, limited transmission of chikungunya virus occurred in Italy.

To view the global distribution of countries at risk, click here

Advice for Travelers

No medications or vaccines are available to prevent a person from getting sick with chikungunya fever. CDC recommends that people traveling to areas where chikungunya fever has been reported take the following steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

  • When outdoors or in a building that is not well screened, use insect repellent on uncovered skin. If sunscreen is needed, apply before insect repellent.
    • Look for a repellent that contains one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin (KBR 3023), Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus/PMD, or IR3535. Always follow the instructions on the label when you use the repellent.
    • In general, repellents protect longer against mosquito bites when they have a higher concentration (%) of any of these active ingredients. However, concentrations above 50% do not offer a distinct increase in protection time. Products with less than 10% of an active ingredient may offer only limited protection, often only 1–2 hours.
    • The American Academy of Pediatrics approves the use of repellents with up to 30% DEET on children over 2 months of age.
    • Protect babies less than 2 months old by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit. For more information about the use of repellent on infants and children, please see the “Insect and Other Arthropod Protection” section in Traveling Safely with Infants and Children and the “Children” section of CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions about Repellent Use.
    • For more information on the use of insect repellents, see the information on the Mosquito and Tick Protection webpage.
  • Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
    • For greater protection, clothing may also be sprayed with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent. (Remember: don't use permethrin on skin.)

If you get sick with a fever and think you may have chikungunya fever, you should seek medical care. Although there is no specific treatment for the disease, a doctor may be able to help treat your symptoms. Avoid getting any other mosquito bites, because if you are sick and a mosquito bites you, it can spread the disease to other people.
For more travel health information, see the destinations section and search for the country you are planning to visit.

Other Mosquito-Related Diseases

In many of the areas where chikungunya is present, mosquito bites spread other diseases, such as dengue, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, and yellow fever. If you are traveling to any tropical and subtropical areas of the world, you should take steps to avoid mosquito bites.

Advice for Clinicians

Clinicians should be aware of the ongoing global chikungunya activity. Chikungunya may present in a similar fashion to malaria and dengue, with fever, chills, and generalized myalgias. However, after the acute illness, patients with chikungunya may have a prolonged course of arthralgias or arthritis, which may lead health-care providers to consider and begin testing for rheumatic diseases. These signs and symptoms can persist for several months.
For more information, please see Chikungunya Fever section of CDC Health information for International Travel 2010.

More Information

The incubation period for chikungunya (time from infection to illness) is usually 3–7 days, but it can range from 2 to 12 days. Chikungunya typically lasts a few days to 2 weeks, but some patients feel fatigue lasting several weeks. Most patients report severe joint pain or arthritis, which may last for weeks or months. The symptoms are similar to those of dengue fever, but, unlike some types of dengue, people who have chikungunya fever do not experience hemorrhage (bleeding) or go into shock. People with chikungunya fever generally get better on their own and rarely die from the disease.
Medical care for chikungunya fever is usually focused on treating the symptoms of the disease. Bed rest, fluids, and mild pain medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen (paracetamol) may relieve symptoms of fever and aching, provided there are no medical contraindications for using these medications. Most people are not sick enough to need to stay in the hospital. All people who become sick with chikungunya fever should be protected against additional mosquito bites to reduce the risk of further transmission of the virus.
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Updated: December 06, 2010