Chikungunya: Overview, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

chikungunya - livayur

This article is reviewed by Dr. Jyoti Lakhani

What is Chikungunya? Chikungunya is an arthropod-borne alphavirus, primarily transmitted through Aedes mosquitoes’ bites. Discovered in Tanzania’s Makonde Plateau in 1952, it has affected many regions in Africa and Asia. 

This viral disease manifests with symptoms such as fever, joint pain, headache, rash, and muscle pain. Understanding its transmission, symptoms, and preventive measures is crucial in combating its impact. In this article, we’ll delve into common questions about Chikungunya, providing insights into the virus, offering ways to safeguard against it. [1]

Causes and Transmission of Chikungunya

The virus is generally transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, but it can also be transmitted through:-

Travel: Apart from mosquito bites, travel has emerged as a significant factor in the spread of Chikungunya. With the rise in global travel, there has been a proportional increase in the number of individuals contracting the virus. When an infected person travels to an area where the virus is not present, they can spread the virus to mosquitoes in that area. These mosquitoes can then bite other people and transmit the virus to them. [2]

Poor Hydration: Insufficient hydration is identified as another risk factor for Chikungunya infection. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases revealed that individuals experiencing dehydration were at a higher risk of contracting Chikungunya compared to well-hydrated individuals. The authors of the study speculate that dehydration might render individuals more susceptible to the virus due to its potential weakening effect on the immune system. [3]

Mosquito Bites: The most common way to get Chikungunya is through the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes that transmit Chikungunya are the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus species. These mosquitoes are found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. They are also found in some temperate regions, such as the southern United States. [4]

Blood-borne transmission :  Chikungunya virus can also be transmitted through blood. This has been documented in cases where laboratory personnel have handled infected blood and healthcare providers have drawn blood from infected patients. However, blood-borne transmission is rare.  [4]

In utero transmission:  In rare cases, Chikungunya virus can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy. This is called in utero transmission. In utero transmission has been documented primarily during the second trimester of pregnancy. [4]

Symptoms of Chikungunya 

Most people infected with the Chikungunya virus will develop some symptoms.  These could be:-

Joint swelling and pain: Typically affecting hands, feet, and knees, joint pain can be severe.  [1]

Fever: Caused by the body’s immune system fighting off the infection. [1]

Headache: Usually mild to moderate, but it can be severe in some cases. [1]

Rash: A less common symptom of Chikungunya. It is usually mild and non-itchy. [5]

Prevention of Chikungunya

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease that can cause fever, joint pain, rash, and other symptoms. There is no specific treatment for Chikungunya, so prevention is the best way to protect against it.

The best way to prevent Chikungunya is to avoid mosquito bites. Do this by:

Using insect repellent: Use insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Apply the repellent according to the instructions on the label.  [1] [5]

Wearing protective clothing:  When outdoors, especially during the peak mosquito hours of dawn and dusk, individuals are advised to wear long sleeves and pants to minimize mosquito exposure.

Using bed nets: If residing in mosquito-prone areas, using bed nets while sleeping can help prevent mosquito bites.

Staying indoors: If possible, stay indoors during peak mosquito hours.

Draining standing water: Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so it is important to drain any standing water around the house, such as in buckets, flowerpots, or birdbaths.

Chikungunya and Ayurveda 

Ayurveda offers a variety of treatments for a range of conditions. These include single drugs, compound herbal and herbo-mineral combinations, physical measures for vector control and environmental sanitation, and other treatments such as Jvarahara (antipyretics), Shothahara (anti-inflammatory), Vedanaahara (analgesics), Kushtghna (skin diseases), Kandughna (anti-pruritic), Kasahara (anti-tussive), Swasahara (anti-dyspnoeic), and Atisararahara (anti-diarrhoeal).

These treatments are based on the principles of Ayurveda, which is a holistic system of medicine that aims to balance the body’s three doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. Ayurveda believes that disease is caused by an imbalance of these doshas, and that treatment should aim to restore balance.

The treatments mentioned above are just some of the many available in Ayurveda. For individuals considering Ayurveda to address a condition, it is crucial to consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner. Such professionals can thoroughly assess individual needs and recommend the most suitable course of treatment. [6]  


Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease primarily found in Africa and Asia. Preventive measures, such as avoiding mosquito bites and eliminating breeding sites, are crucial as there is no specific treatment for Chikungunya. 


1. What is Chikungunya and where does it come from?

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease that causes fever, joint pain, headache, rash, and muscle pain. It is most common in Africa and Asia, but has been spreading to other parts of the world in recent years. The name “Chikungunya” originates from a Makonde phrase meaning “that which bends up,” which refers to the characteristic stooped posture that some people with the disease adopt due to the severe joint pain.

2. How is Chikungunya transmitted?

Chikungunya is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. These mosquitoes are also responsible for transmitting dengue and Zika viruses. The Aedes mosquito is a small, black and white mosquito that is found in tropical and subtropical regions. It bites during the day, especially during dawn and dusk.

What are the symptoms of Chikungunya?

The most common symptoms of Chikungunya are fever, joint pain, headache, rash, and muscle pain. The joint pain can be severe and can last for several weeks or months. Other symptoms may include fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.

4. How is Chikungunya diagnosed?

In the case of Chikungunya, there is no specific test available. Diagnosis is typically made by doctors who rely on the patient’s symptoms and travel history. However, in certain instances, a blood test might be conducted to confirm the presence of the disease.

5. How is Chikungunya treated?

There is no specific treatment for Chikungunya. Treatment is supportive and may include rest, fluids, and pain medication. In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary.

6. How can I prevent Chikungunya?

The best way to prevent Chikungunya is for individuals to avoid mosquito bites. This can be achieved by using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying indoors during peak mosquito hours. Additionally, they can take measures to eliminate standing water around their homes to prevent mosquito breeding. These preventive actions play a crucial role in reducing the risk of Chikungunya transmission and ensuring a safer environment for everyone.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for general information and not meant to substitute any medical advice. Please consult your doctor for appropriate medical consultation.



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