Chikungunya is transmitted to people by being bitten by a mosquito that is infected with the virus. Symptoms include fever, rash and sore joints. The virus is mainly found in Africa and Asia. Travellers to affected areas should avoid mosquito bites to prevent infection.
Chikungunya infection is caused by a virus that is spread by mosquitoes.
Symptoms usually develop about 7-10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
The majority of people infected with the chikungunya virus recover completely in a few weeks. Others may experience symptoms such as tiredness for many weeks and joint pain for many months.
People develop chikungunya virus infection after being bitten by a mosquito that is infected with the virus. The virus is not spread directly from person to person.
Chikungunya is spread by the same mosquitoes that transmit dengue: the Dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). These mosquitoes become infected when they feed on somebody who has chikungunya viruses in the blood during their infection. Once infected, the virus multiplies inside the mosquito and can infect other people when the mosquito feeds again.
As mosquitoes spread the infection to people, anyone bitten is at risk of infection if they are not immune. Chikungunya virus occurs in Africa, south-eastern Asia, India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Since 2004 there has been a major epidemic throughout the Indian Ocean region. In recent years, travel to Indonesia, particularly Bali, has been the most common source of chikungunya infection in Australian travellers.
Your doctor can take a blood sample and have it tested for antibodies against chikungunya virus. A second blood test may be required to confirm a recent infection.
There is no specific treatment for chikungunya virus. Your doctor will be able to advise you on treating the symptoms with anti-inflammatory medications.
Laboratories are required to notify cases of chikungunya virus on diagnosis. Public health units follow up each case to determine where the person acquired the infection. This information is important to assist identifying if transmission is occurring in areas considered to be low-risk and to prevent transmission.
For further information please call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055