What is Chikungunya? Its Symptoms, Risks, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Chikungunya infection is caused due to the chikungunya virus which is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The virus is spread by the female species of two different kinds of mosquitoes namely, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.

The origin of Chikungunya dates back to the 1950s in Tanzania. In Makonde, the word loosely translated to “walking bent over”. This is because the virus causes severe joint and muscle pain making the patient walk bent over due to back pain.

Chikungunya was once considered to be a disease of the tropics. However, now cases have been documented in well over one-quarter of the countries around the globe.

Chikungunya is a major health issue in India affecting billions. After 2010, India saw a decline in the instances until 2016, when a massive outbreak nudged the country severely.

Signs and Symptoms

It takes around 3 to 7 days after a person is bitten by chikungunya mosquitoes for signs and symptoms to show up. The most common symptoms are fever which can be as high as 104 °F and severe joint pain. Chikungunya may not be a deadly infection but the symptoms can be disabling and severe. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, tiredness, rash or joint swelling. Less common symptoms include vomiting, nausea, conjunctivitis, and maculopapular rash. These symptoms are short-lived. Most people start to recover within a week’s time. A majority of infections can cause arthritis and arthralgia months or years after the initial infection.

Who are More at Risk?

Newborn babies who get infected with the virus are at risk of suffering from a more severe form of this ailment. Elderly people due to weak immunity and those with medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure are also more susceptible to chikungunya.

The silver lining to this ailment is that once a person has suffered from chikungunya, the risk of getting it again is extremely low as the person becomes immune to it.


Chikungunya symptoms are similar to Zika and dengue. These diseases are also transmitted by the bite of the same mosquitoes that spread chikungunya. Thus, sometimes chikungunya is misdiagnosed especially in those areas where all these diseases are common. It is extremely important to rule out dengue fever at the earliest due to its higher mortality rate than chikungunya.

Visit a doctor as soon as you suspect having chikungunya symptoms or if you have visited a place recently where chikungunya is prevalent. Since the definitive diagnosis can be done only by running blood tests due to the similar nature of the symptoms with other conditions, the doctor may advise getting some tests done.


There are certain complications that may arise when a person suffers from chikungunya. These include:

  • Uveitis
  • Retinitis
  • Meningoencephalitis
  • Myocarditis
  • Hepatitis
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Cranial nerve palsies
  • Nephritis
  • Hemorrhage
  • Myelitis

Is There Any Vaccine Available?

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent or treat chikungunya. India and the United States of America are continuing with their research to develop it.


There is no specific treatment for this ailment. Generally, people get better by themselves within 7 days and recover completely thereafter. However, joint pain may take much longer to get better. Doctors offer treatment for symptomatic relief with fever and pain medicines. The patient must drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and take plenty of rest to get better sooner.

If you or a dear one exhibit symptoms of chikungunya, get checked today.

Nightingales offer home-based medical services ranging from doctor consultation to laboratory services. To know more about how we can help or to book a test, consult a Doctor at home, visit us at https://www.nightingales.in/

Reference – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5682881/

Image Credits – People photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

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