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Chikungunya fever

Mary Elizabeth Wilson, MD
Deborah J Lenschow, MD, PhD
Section Editor
Martin S Hirsch, MD
Deputy Editors
Elinor L Baron, MD, DTMH
Paul L Romain, MD


Chikungunya is an arthropod-borne alphavirus transmitted by mosquitoes that causes acute febrile polyarthralgia and arthritis [1]. The name chikungunya is derived from an African language meaning "that which bends up" or "stooped walk" because of the incapacitating arthralgia caused by the disease.


Geographic distribution — The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains a website summarizing geographic distribution of chikungunya virus.

Chikungunya virus is endemic in certain parts of West Africa; human serosurveys have identified antibodies to chikungunya virus in 35 to 50 percent of the population in some areas [2,3].

Outbreaks of chikungunya disease have occurred in Africa, Asia, Europe, and islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and more recently in the Americas. Most outbreaks occur during the tropical rainy season and abate during the dry season. However, outbreaks in Africa have occurred after periods of drought, where open water containers serve as vector-breeding sites.

Chikungunya can cause large outbreaks with high attack rates, affecting one-third to three-quarters of the population in areas where the virus is circulating. An outbreak on Réunion Island in 2005 to 2006 involved approximately 266,000 individuals (34 percent of the island's population) [4].


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Literature review current through: Jul 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 20, 2017.
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