Chikungunya (pronunciation: \chik-en-gun-ye) virus is transmitted to people by mosquitoes. The most common symptoms of chikungunya virus infection are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Outbreaks have occurred throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and islands in Indian and Pacific Oceans. The virus is transmittable from one person to another by mosquito bite.
If you have traveled outside the United States and you are experiencing symptoms like those mentioned here it is important you seek medical attention. It is also critical that you avoid exposure to mosquitoes locally if experienceing these symptoms or if you have been diagnosed with Chikungunya as it is possible for you to spread the disease to local mosquitoes.
In December of 2013, chikungunya virus was found for the first time in the Americas on islands in the Caribbean. There is a risk that the virus will be imported to new areas by infected travelers. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat chikungunya virus infection. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. When traveling to countries with chikungunya virus, use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.
Since Chikungunya appeared in the western hemisphere over 1.2 million individuals have become infected involving 44 countries. In the United States the virus has been found in travelers returning from traveling abroad. These traveler related infections involve 48 states including Missouri. As of February 2015 7,005 cases of Chikungunya infections have occured in the United States and its territories. Of these 11 cases were infected locally in the State of Florida, 4,467 were infected locally in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The disease is known to be capable of transmission by two mosquito species. One of these, the asian tiger mosquito exists prominently in Missouri.
Self Protection and Prevention
Elimination of man-made standing water sources is the best way to eliminate the species of mosquitoes that carry the virus. Any container item capable of holding water for seven days or more should be removed, altered or inverted. Examples of the types of breeding sources include but are not limited to: aluminum cans, buckets, swimming or wading pools, tarps, flower pot sill plates, clogged gutters, food packaging, wheel barrows, bird baths, tires, bottle caps, or any man made item that are capable of holding water.
The mosquito species that transmits the West Nile Virus is typically active from dusk to dawn. When outside at any time or in areas where mosquitoes are active the best defense against mosquitoes is to use insect repellents that contain DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Eucalyptus. Don't apply repellants that contain permethrin to bare skin. These are meant to be applied to clothing only. If weather permits use of long sleeves and long pants is advised.
Information for Health Care Providers