Symptoms and Signs of Chikungunya Virus Infection

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 5/3/2022

Doctor's Notes on Chikungunya Virus Infection

Chikungunya virus infection is a mosquito-borne viral illness transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes). Signs and symptoms are similar in adults and children and may include the following:

  • fever,
  • joint pains,
  • joint swelling,
  • headache,
  • muscle pain,
  • skin rash, and
  • infrequently, bleeding from the nose and/or gums.

The joint pains can be severe and cause the person to walk in a stooped or bent posture. Although the disease usually lasts about 7-10 days, the joint pain may persist for months in some individuals.

The cause of Chikungunya virus infection starts when a virus-infected mosquito (a vector), while getting a blood meal during a bite, transfers the virus to a person. If an uninfected mosquito bites an infected person, then the mosquito gets infected and becomes a vector for the disease. Chikungunya virus infections are usually not spread person to person except in mother to newborn.

What Are the Treatments for Chikungunya Infection?

There is no specific treatment or vaccine to treat this viral infection; most people improve on their own with symptoms decreasing over a week or so. Many doctors suggest the following:

Some individuals may have a difficult time with symptoms (newborns, age over 65, and people with hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease); they should contact their primary care doctor for further evaluation.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.