Chikungunya Virus Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What is the Chikungunya Virus? The Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a type of arbovirus that was first discovered in Tanzania in 1952 and has caused outbreaks around the world since then. Although there have been relatively few cases in the United States, it’s important to know how to prevent and treat this disease, which has symptoms similar to those of dengue fever, Zika virus, and other mosquito-borne illnesses.

What is the Chikungunya virus?

The Chikungunya virus is named after a town in Tanzania where it was first isolated in 1952. The virus causes an acute illness characterized by fever and severe joint pain. Other common symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and rash.

The joint pain is often very debilitating, but usually lasts for a few days or maybe prolonged to weeks. There is no cure for chikungunya fever. Treatments are supportive: rest, fluids, and analgesics to relieve the fever and pain.


Chikungunya virus is a member of the genus Alphavirus in the family Togaviridae. It has been isolated from monkeys and humans in Africa. Two types of alphaviruses cause significant human disease: chikungunya virus (CHIKV) and eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV). Chikungunya virus is spread to humans by mosquitoes from rodent reservoirs.

Chikungunya virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. It is an alphavirus that was first identified in Tanzania in 1952 during an outbreak of a febrile illness accompanied by acute muscle pain.


The Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-borne virus that was first discovered in Tanzania in 1952. Since then, CHIKV has spread to more than 50 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, Central America, and North America. Most cases of CHIKV infection are mild or without symptoms; however, those infected with CHIKV may develop an acute illness characterized by high fever

Clinical Manifestation

The clinical manifestations of chikungunya fever are characterized by acute onset of fever associated with joint pain. In addition to joint pain, symptoms may include myalgia (muscle aches), headaches, nausea or vomiting, rash (appears about two days after onset of illness), severe arthritis that is difficult to move. Joint swelling is usually present in only one or two joints initially; within a week, however, almost all patients experience involvement of other joints.

Assessment and Diagnostic Findings

Chikungunya virus is a mosquito-borne virus that was first discovered in Tanzania in 1952. It is mainly found in Africa, Asia, and South America; most recently it has begun to spread to Europe.

Medical Management

Medical care is only appropriate for a few people with Chikungunya.

Bed rest, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or other pain relievers may help relieve symptoms. Aspirin should not be used because it can cause bleeding in some people with Chikungunya.

Most patients will recover within a week to 10 days without medical care. People who have severe joint pain or arthritis that lasts beyond two weeks after infection may want to see their healthcare provider about treatment options.

Nursing Management

When caring for patients who have a diagnosis of chikungunya virus, follow universal precautions; help your patients with antiviral medications prescribed by their physician. Provide supportive care to all patients infected with the chikungunya virus.

Infected patients can continue to be symptomatic for several weeks following infection. If antiviral medications are not available, treat patients symptomatically and manage their fever as needed with acetaminophen or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen.

Symptoms of chikungunya fever

Often there are no symptoms or signs of chikungunya. If symptoms do occur they usually start within two to ten days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The first symptoms of infection may include fever, headache, joint pain (especially in wrists and ankles), muscle pain, and sore eyes.

These symptoms can last for about a week. In some cases, fever may persist for a month or more. People with chikungunya virus infections usually recover fully in about a week to 10 days even without treatment.

Treatments for chikungunya fever

Chikungunya virus usually doesn’t require treatment. If a patient has severe symptoms that are impacting their quality of life, doctors may prescribe some medications to reduce inflammation or fever. But there is no cure for chikungunya fever, according to Mayo Clinic.

People may continue to experience joint pain and swelling for weeks or months after infection. Doctors treat patients with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen to relieve symptoms of discomfort in joints.

How did I get chikungunya?

Chikungunya is a virus transmitted by mosquitoes. The virus is named after chikungunya, a Makonde word meaning that which bends up, referring to how people with chikungunya tend to hunch over while infected. A person who has never been infected before will feel ill within 3-7 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Prevention tips

Chikungunya (pronounced chic-UN-gah-nyah) is spread to people through mosquito bites. To avoid getting sick, you should try to prevent mosquito bites. Follow these steps to protect yourself
Use insect repellent. Apply mosquito repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus when you are outdoors. Always follow product instructions.

When used as directed, these products are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

If you have a heart condition or asthma, talk to your doctor before using insect repellent. Cover up.

Wear long sleeves and long pants to keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

Nursing Care Planning and Goals

A patient with the Chikungunya virus may develop a number of symptoms. Most patients present with a fever followed by chills; severe muscle and joint pain in one or more joints, often accompanied by headaches; nausea; vomiting; swollen eyes that hurt or itch; rash or skin lesions. Other symptoms include conjunctivitis (red eyes), fatigue, abdominal pain, diarrhea. Typically these symptoms last for a week to ten days but can persist for several weeks in adults.


Chikungunya virus is spread to humans by mosquito bites. The disease was first described during an outbreak in 1952 in Tanzania. The name chikungunya comes from a word in one of the Makonde dialects, meaning that which bends up, referring to how people with chikungunya virus can stoop over as they get older.

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