Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya Fever is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Clinical Consult.

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  • A single stranded RNA virus (genus Alphavirus; family Togaviridae)
  • Transmitted by Aedes spp. mosquitoes
  • The average incubation period is 2 to 4 days (range 1 to 12 days), followed by the sudden onset of fever, severe arthralgia and myalgia, headaches, photophobia, and a rash (1).
  • Clinical signs and symptoms are similar to dengue and Zika virus infection.


  • Originally confined to Africa, Asia, and the Indian subcontinent; has spread to Europe and the Americas
  • 2005 to 2014: India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, and Thailand had >1.9 million cases.
  • 2013: Transmission of chikungunya virus in the Americas was first identified in the Caribbean and has spread to 45 countries.
  • 2014: Local transmission was identified in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • 2015 to 2016: one local transmission reported from United States; ongoing transmission in U.S. territories
  • 2017 to July 2018: no transmission reported in United States

Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • Bite from Aedes spp. mosquitoes (especially Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus)
  • A. aegypti also transmits dengue and Zika virus. Coinfection with dengue and/or Zika is possible and increasingly reported.
  • Aggressive daytime feeders; bites also occur at night.
  • Other modes of transmission: maternal–fetal (2); blood transfusion; corneal grafts (3)
  • Pathogenesis is uncertain.
Pregnancy Considerations
  • Mother-to-child transmission is seen with intrapartum maternal viremia, often leading to severe neonatal infection, mainly encephalopathy (2).
  • Cesarean section with no protective effect on transmission
  • Median onset of neonatal disease is 4 days (ranges 3 to 7 days); with fever (100% of cases) and thrombocytopenia (89% of cases)
  • There is no evidence for congenital infection in asymptomatic live-born infants exposed during pregnancy (4).

Risk Factors

People living in, or travelling to, an endemic area, not previously infected

General Prevention

  • No vaccine or antiviral currently available
  • Prevention through use of insect repellants, arthropod control measures, and clothing that minimizes skin exposure, especially during daytime hours

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