Chikungunya fever

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 17 Oct 2019

Chikungunya fever is caused by the chikungunya virus (CHIKV), and is characterized by a classic viral prodrome of fever, skin exanthem, malaise and arthralgia. Its most striking manifestation is a marked, often fairly debilitating arthritis.

  • fever
  • arthralgia
  • skin rash
  • lethargy

Clinical suspicion for chikungunya fever, requires virological confirmation as other virus-mediated pathology, in particular dengue and zika virus, may mimic its presentation and have a similar geographic distribution. 

The infectious agent, chikungunya virus (CHIKV), is from the Togaviridae virus family. The Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes act as the primary vectors.

Unfortunately, despite its wide prevalence, no specific treatments for chikungunya fever currently exist and management remains primarily supportive 1,2.

The name chikungunya is the word used by the Makonde tribal group from Tanzania to refer to the condition. It literally means “that which bends up” from the position adopted by sufferers of the disease. The ultimate derivation is from the verb 'kungunyala' which means to 'assume a contorted position'. It is interesting to note that nany publications mistakenly state that its etymology descends from the Swahili language 3.

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