How to Recognize Chikungunya Fever Symptoms

Two Parts:Identifying the SymptomsTreating and Preventing the Virus

Chikungunya fever is caused by a virus, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The two specific groups of mosquitoes responsible for the spread of the virus are aedes aegypti and aedes albopictus. While the disease is far more common in Africa, Asia, and parts of India, cases have been reported in the Western Hemisphere in the last few years. The virus causes a high fever and moderate to severe joint pain around three to seven days after infection. Currently, there is no treatment for chikungunya fever and the only way to prevent it is to avoid mosquito bites. However, the virus is not usually serious and rarely fatal.[1]

Part 1
Identifying the Symptoms

  1. Image titled Recognize Chikungunya Fever Symptoms Step 1
    Look for a high fever. A high fever is one of the first symptoms of chikungunya. The fever typically ranges from 102 to 104 degrees °F (40 degrees °C). The fever will usually last for up to a week.[2]
  2. Image titled Recognize Chikungunya Fever Symptoms Step 2
    Identify joint pain. It is often severe and disabling. It is usually bilateral (affecting both sides) and most commonly affects the hands and feet. The lower limbs and back are less common sites of joint pain. Joint pain can last weeks and may linger up to a year or more in some rare cases. The term “chikungunya” translates to “that which bends up” in the Makonde dialect of Tanzania, which describes the physical appearance of a person with severe clinical features of the disease.
    • In most sufferers the joint pain will last for seven to ten days, however in older patients it may persist for longer.[3]
    • Some people with also have swelling of their joints.
  3. Image titled Recognize Chikungunya Fever Symptoms Step 3
    Check for a rash. The rash usually occurs after the onset of the fever and is usually maculopapular, which means it will appear as a flat, red area of skin covered with small bumps. It most commonly affects one’s torso and extremities. It can also appear on one’s palms, soles, and face.[4]
  4. Image titled Recognize Chikungunya Fever Symptoms Step 4
    Check for additional symptoms. If you have chikungunya, you may also experience headache, muscle pain, conjunctivitis, nausea, and vomiting.

Part 2
Treating and Preventing the Virus

  1. Image titled Recognize Chikungunya Fever Symptoms Step 5
    Call your doctor if you think you may have chikungunya fever. If you have a fever, joint pain, and a rash, consult your doctor. As chikungunya is difficult to diagnose (and is often misdiagnosed as dengue fever), your doctor will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms, places you've traveled to recently, and by taking a sample of your blood for viral testing. The only way to truly confirm the presence of chikungunya fever, is through laboratory testing of blood serum or cerebrospinal fluid.
    • Blood testing for the virus is done at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a few state health departments. Tests normally take around 4-14 days to process. By this time, your body has already begun attacking the chikungunya virus.[5]
  2. Image titled Recognize Chikungunya Fever Symptoms Step 6
    Treat the symptoms of the virus. There are no antiviral drugs designed to treat chikungunya fever itself, however your doctor may prescribe medication to alleviate the symptoms. Your doctor will also advise you to get plenty of bed rest and to drink a lot of fluids to fend off dehydration.[6]
    • For example, fever and joint aches can be managed with acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Aleve).[7]
    • Do not take aspirin because of the increased risk of Reye’s syndrome — a rare but serious condition that causes liver and brain swelling, especially in children and teenagers.[8]
  3. Image titled Recognize Chikungunya Fever Symptoms Step 7
    Prevent chikungunya fever by avoiding mosquito bites. Currently, there is no commercial vaccine for chikungunya fever. Therefore, the only way to prevent the virus is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, especially when traveling in areas where the disease is prevalent, such as Africa, Asia, and parts of the Indian subcontinent.[9] If you are at high risk for complications, such as being pregnant or having other serious medical problems, try to avoid going to places with outbreaks if you can. To prevent mosquito bites:
    • Wear long sleeved shirts and and long pants when traveling in high-risk areas. If possible, treat your clothes with permethrin (a type of insecticide) to repel mosquitoes.
    • Use mosquito repellent on exposed skin, preferably one containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or paramenthane-diol (PMD), as these are the most effective and last the longest.
    • Make sure your living accommodations have tightly-fitted insect screens on windows and on doors. Sleep under an insecticide-treated bed net at night and use a net to protect young children and elderly people if they sleep during the day.[10]

Article Info

Categories: Insect Borne Diseases