Chikungunya: Symptoms and Treatment

May 24, 2024

Chikungunya: Symptoms and Treatment
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Chikungunya is named after an African language that means “that which bends up” or “stooped walk” due to the disease’s potentially crippling joint involvement. Fever and joint pain are the main symptoms, and a blood test is the only method that can provide a conclusive diagnosis of chikungunya.There are no chikungunya vaccinations available.

This article discusses chikungunya fever symptoms and treatment. 

What is Chikungunya?

“Chikungunya” name originates from the Makonde plateau where the illness was initially reported. It describes how people with joint discomfort seem stooped and meaning “that which bends up,” “to become contorted,” or “to walk bent over.”

Chikungunya is an RNA virus that belongs to the family Togaviridae. The illness was initially noted in 1952 after a Tanzanian epidemic. Because chikungunya has only been reported in Africa, Asia, and India, it was previously thought to be a tropical illness. Recently, the dangerous illness of chikungunya has caused concern in nations worldwide including America and Europe. It is a viral illness that can sometimes be deadly and is brought on by an Aedes mosquito bite. Although it is untrue, there is a common misconception that chickens may spread the chikungunya virus. In actuality, it cannot spread through a human being as well. 

Symptoms of Chikungunya

The acute phase of chikungunya is brief, but it is during this time that you have the most symptoms. After a person is bitten by an infected mosquito, symptoms may not appear for two to twelve days. A person infected with chikungunya may endure symptoms for around ten days after they first appear. The symptoms listed below are what an infected individual goes through when the sickness is at its most severe.

    • Joint Pain or Arthritis: Arthritis will develop in the wrists, hands, ankles, shoulders, and knees of an infected individual, but not in the hips. Although the patient can find some reduction with little physical activity, the discomfort normally gets worse in the morning. The affected individual may also have slightly swollen joints and ligament inflammation.
  • High Fever: Fever is one of the primary symptoms of the illness. The body temperature of an infected individual with chikungunya often ranges from 102 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This fever can last for a whole week or at least three days.
    • Headache: Another important red flag for those suffering from chikungunya symptoms is a severe or persistent headache. These headaches might last for many days.
    • Red Eyes: While conjunctivitis is typically linked to red eyes, in certain instances, Chikungunya may be the cause. 
  • Rashes: Rashes affect about 40% of chikungunya patients, with maculopapular or morbilliform eruptions being the most prevalent kind. Not only do these have lumps on top of them, but these rashes are truly red in hue. Usually, these rashes start to show up three to four days after the fever does. And after appearing for three to four days, these rashes go away.
  • Bleeding: Individuals with the infection are most likely to experience bleeding. Even hemorrhage may be experienced by certain patients.

Infected children may also exhibit some clinical signs in addition to these chikungunya symptoms. These are the following:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Retro-orbital pain (Pain behind the eye)
  • Meningeal syndrome

Prevention of Chikungunya

The most effective means of prevention involve limiting contact with mosquitos, as mosquito bites are the primary source of transmission for chikungunya. Chikungunya can be prevented by taking the following actions: 

  • Applying insect repellent to skin and clothes
  • Clothes that completely enclose the body
  • Attempting to spend as much time as possible indoors, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon
  • Refraining from visiting regions where epidemics are occurring
  • It may be beneficial to use products that include the oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • Running the air conditioner—this keeps mosquitoes out of the house
  • Sleeping under a mosquito net
  • Making use of pesticide vaporizers and mosquito coils
  • Draining water from gutters, rain gutters, vases, potted plants, and saucers beneath them
  • Covering water containers that can not be emptied, including residential water tanks or reservoirs
  • Storing trash in closed containers, such as plastic bags

Chikungunya seldom results in death, although the symptoms can be devastating and lasting. 

Treatment of Chikungunya

Although the virus is seldom fatal, it can cause severe and crippling symptoms. While the majority of people get over their fever in a week or so, joint discomfort might last for months. Twenty percent of patients still report having joint discomfort a year later.

Doctors advise rest and plenty of water as the only treatments for chikungunya. There are no particular medications for the treatment as Chikungunya is a viral illness.

Fever and joint discomfort can be reduced with over-the-counter drugs. Physiotherapy might be beneficial for pains that stay longer. 

Complications of Chikungunya

Although major consequences are rare, infections can occasionally result in severe issues with the skin, eyes, kidneys, heart, or neurological system.

Occasionally occurring yet dangerous side effects include:

  • Myocarditis, or heart inflammation
  • Acute renal disease
  • Hepatitis
  • A severe rash that blisters
  • Eye conditions (retinitis, uveitis)
  • Neurologic conditions such as myelitis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, meningoencephalitis, or cranial nerve palsies


The cause of sudden, large, rapid outbreaks with periods without illness, the virus’s mode of survival or maintenance in nature in between epidemics, the factors that cause the outbreaks, and the replacement of strains during outbreaks are just a few of the fascinating and unanswered questions surrounding chikungunya fever, an emerging global disease.

To fully comprehend this disease’s natural history and epidemiology, more investigation is required. Prevention and elimination of mosquitoes should be practiced at the individual and community levels till then.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the duration of chikungunya?

Fevers typically last from several days to a week. The fever can also be biphasic, meaning it may come in two stages.

2. What is the duration of symptom onset following exposure?

The onset of symptoms can occur anywhere from 4 to 7 days after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the chikungunya virus.

3. Is chikungunya contagious?

Like the majority of diseases spread by mosquitoes, the virus can only spread from person to person by blood-to-blood contact, such as a blood transfusion containing tainted blood or a mosquito bite. You cannot get chikungunya from touching or tending to an infected patient.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.


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