When the infected mosquito first bites a person the incubation period is usually 3-7 days after which a fever develops. Fever can last from a few weeks to months. It can likewise be accompanied by aching, painful joints, nausea, vomiting and a rash. The Swahili word for Chikungunya means “bent up” a position often taken by those with the disease due to the intense pain. Tiredness and fatigue can also last for months.
No deaths have been reported due to Chikungunya and following the disease a person is believed to develop life long immunity.
Who is a risk of Chikungunya?
Travellers and those living in areas of Africa and Asia where the disease is endemic are at risk. Areas of infection are very similar to those of Yellow Fever. The same mosquito (Aedes aegypti) is responsible for the spread.
September 2006 saw epidemics in the islands of the Indian Ocean, particularly Reunion. More than 115 travellers returning from this area were reported to be infected (ProMed). Cases are also increasing in India.
How can I prevent Chikungunya?
At present, a vaccine does not exist and the main way to prevent Chikungunya is prevent bites in the first place.
Travellers should be aware of the risk and take necessary action to prevent bites.
No prevention medication exists for Chikungunya and those diagnosed are advised to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take regular painkillers.
Note: This information is designed to complement and not replace the relationship that exists with your existing family doctor or travel health professional. Please discuss your travel health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.