Chikungunya fever (CHIK) is an infection caused by the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV). The virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, similar to West Nile and dengue viruses. The Chikungunya virus was first identified during an outbreak in 1952 in southern Tanzania, although it is suspected to have been present in Africa and Asia for much longer.
An infected person will typically become ill three to seven days after the mosquito bite, but symptoms can begin anywhere from two to 12 days post-bite. These symptoms can last 3-10 days. Up to 28% of people who are infected will not have any symptoms (asymptomatic), although they can still be infectious to mosquitoes for a short time if bitten. Persons at greatest risk for severe illness include newborn infants, those over 65 years of age, and those who have other health conditions. Treatment is symptomatic or supportive.
Symptoms may include:
- Sudden high fever (usually > 102ºF) which may be continuous or intermittent
- Severe joint pain that commonly involves the hands and feet
- Joint swelling
- Back pain
- Rash usually 2-5 days after fever starts
- Other symptoms may include headache, body ache, nausea, vomiting, and redness around the eyes. In unusual cases, infection can involve the brain, eyes, heart, kidney and other organs.
- Fatal infections are rare, however many patients have chronic joint pain, arthritis, loss of energy and depression lasting weeks to years.
Chikungunya virus is spread by two mosquito species: Aedes aegypti(primarily) and Aedes albopictus, both found in Florida. While the virus is not currently found in the state, introductions are possible if a CHIKV infected visitor or returning traveler is bitten by Florida mosquitoes in the early stages (the first week) of their illness. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people they bite.
Chikungunya and Dengue
It is important to note that a person can be infected with CHIK and dengue viruses at the same time as they are both carried by the same types of mosquitoes. Therefore, it is important that providers consider both dengue fever and CHIK when evaluating suspect cases with travel to areas where both viruses are present. Testing is the only way for a health care provider to definitively differentiate CHIK and dengue fever.
Mosquito-Borne Disease Prevention
Whether you’re staying at home or traveling abroad, preventing mosquito bites is the best way to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne disease. Mosquitoes can be found in many different environments and you may not always notice when you have been bitten. Mosquito activity in Florida can be year round. The following are some steps that can be taken to help prevent mosquito bites.
DRAIN: water from garbage cans, house gutters, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
DISCARD: Old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren't being used.
EMPTY and CLEAN: Birdbaths and pet's water bowls at least once or twice a week.
PROTECT: Boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don't accumulate water.
MAINTAIN: The water balance (pool chemistry) of swimming pools. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use. Repair broken screens on windows, doors, porches, and patios.
CLOTHING: If you must be outside when mosquitoes are active, cover up. Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long sleeves.
REPELLENT: Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing. Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, and IR3535 are effective. Use netting to protect children younger than 2 months.
For protection of your home and family contact GES Pest and Lawn for Pest Services