What Is the Chikungunya Virus?
Chikungunya virus is a mosquito-borne illness transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Both Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes can spread chikungunya. A. aegypti lives in the tropics and sub-tropics, and A. albopictus lives in temperate and cold areas.
Some symptoms of chikungunya are similar to those of dengue fever and the Zika virus, and diagnosis can be difficult.
What Is the History of the Chikungunya Virus?
People first described the viral illness in 1953 during an outbreak in a Swahili village in Tanzania, Africa. The name chikungunya comes from an African language, and it means "that which bends up," which describes the stooped walk that results from the joint pain the disease causes.
Originally, Chikungunya existed mainly in Africa, Asia, and India. Since 2005, people reported more than 1.9 million cases in the islands and countries near the Indian Ocean including India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Mauritius, Malaysia, and Thailand.
In 2007, a local outbreak occurred in Italy, the first time people reported the disease in Europe. In 2008, there was an outbreak in Singapore, and in 2011, an outbreak occurred in Indonesia.
In 2013, the first documented outbreak of chikungunya occurred in the Americas when people reported two cases in the French part of the Caribbean island of St. Martin. Since spring 2015, more than 1.3 million suspected cases of chikungunya have been reported in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Central America, and the U.S. Canada and Mexico also have reported cases.
Other outbreaks include the following:
2014: Montpelier, France; Pacific Islands; Caribbean Islands (Dominican Republic, Haiti, and others)
2015: Dakar, Senegal; Punjab, India; Colombia; Honduras; Nicaragua; Costa Rica
2016: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Argentina, Kenya, Pakistan
2018: Cook Islands and Marshall Islands
As of May 2018, the countries and territories where chikungunya virus caused infections; image courtesy of the CDC.