Chikungunya was first detected in the Americas on islands in the Caribbean during late 2013, and there is valid evidence that the virus has been, and will continue to be imported into new areas by infected travelers – including into Texas.
Transmission of Chikungunya
The epidemic maintenance life cycle of Chikungunya virus involves only humans and mosquitoes. Chikungunya virus is primarily transmitted to humans through the bites of only two species of infected mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus).
Symptoms of Chikungunya
The most common symptoms of Chikungunya virus infection are fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms may include:
- Muscle pain
- Joint swelling
Prevention of Chikungunya Transmission
These infections generally occur during warm weather months when mosquitoes are active. The easiest and best way to avoid all arboviruses is by preventing mosquito bites using the following practices:
- Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, some oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane-diol.
- Wear long sleeves and pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.
- Use a bed net if your sleeping area is exposed to the outdoors.
- Consider using permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
Healthcare providers are encouraged to report suspected Chikungunya virus caused disease cases to their state or local health department to facilitate diagnosis and mitigate the risk of local transmission.
There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatments available for Chikungunya virus infection. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to reduce fever and relieve some symptoms. In severe cases, patients often need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care.
Risk to travelers is highest in areas experiencing ongoing epidemics of the disease. The CDC presently recommends that travelers use standard precautions when traveling to areas that have confirmed cases of Chikungunya.