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Chikungunya

"West Nile Nellie" © Bob Freeman & Fleebag Studios
 
 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is a virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes to people. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person infected with the virus and then spread it to other people through bites. It is most often spread to people by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. These are the same species that spread dengue virus. They bite mostly during the daytime. These mosquitoes have been found in many parts of the world. As of June 2014, these mosquito species have not yet been identified in Southern Nevada.

Where is chikungunya found?

Chikungunya is found in two species of mosquitoes that have been found in many parts of the world. Outbreaks of chikungunya have been reported in Africa, southern Europe, Southeast Asia and islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In December 2013, chikungunya was found for the first time in the Caribbean.

The mosquito species known to carry chikungunya has not yet been found in Southern Nevada.

There are a few cases in US residents according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These individuals acquired the illness while traveling to areas with known infection.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of chikungunya are fever and severe joint pain. Symptoms can occur three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Other symptoms can include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or a rash.

How is it treated?

There are no antiviral medications to treat chikungunya virus. Most patients feel better within a week, and some might develop longer-term joint pain.

If you are sick, get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen or paractemal to reduce fever and pain can be used.

Can I get chikungunya from an infected person?

Chikungunya is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and is not transmitted person to person. If you are taking care of a person who is ill with chikungunya, you are not at risk for catching it. The mosquito species capable of transmitting chikungunya is not currently found in Clark County.

How do I know if I have it?

The symptoms of chikungunya virus usually begin three to seven days after you have been bitten by a mosquito that is carrying the virus. The most common symptoms are fever and severe joint pain often in the hands and feet. Other symptoms can include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or a rash.

How do I get tested?

A healthcare provider would have to order a blood test to see if you have chikungunya or other mosquito-borne illnesses.

Is there a vaccine?

Currently, there is no vaccine or medications to treat chikungunya.

If I visit an area where mosquitoes with chikungunya have been reported and I get bitten am I likely to get sick?

While there is no way to tell for certain, a majority of people who become infected with chikungunya virus will develop symptoms, usually three to seven days after they have become infected. Most people feel better within a week. There are some people who are at risk for more serious illness and these include older adults and people with chronic medical conditions.

Can you get chikungunya from another person?

Chikungunya is not spread person to person. You can become infected when you are bitten by a mosquito infected with the virus. You cannot get chikungunya from touching or kissing a person with the disease or from a health care worker who has treated someone with the disease. The mosquito species capable of transmitting chikungunya is not currently found in Clark County.

Are there any precautions I need to take?

To protect yourself and your family from any mosquito borne infection, eliminate breeding sources like standing water from your yard. Use DEET or other insect repellent; use mosquito nets around beds and cribs if you are in an area with a lot of mosquito activity. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk; however, some species are active during the daytime as well.

Although Clark County residents are not currently at risk for acquiring chikungunya locally, there are other mosquito-borne diseases that residents can catch from our local mosquitoes, including West Nile Virus. If you have recently travelled to an area with known chikungunya infection and you develop symptoms, your healthcare provider can answer questions you might have.

Is a woman’s pregnancy at risk if she is infected with or becomes ill with chikungunya?

According to a study done in France on 1,400 pregnant women in 2006, there was no observable effect on pregnancy outcomes. This study compared 628 uninfected women with 658 infected during pregnancy, 27 infected before pregnancy and 87 infected on unknown dates.

Fritel, X., et.al. Chikungunya Virus Infection during Pregnancy, Reunion, France, 2006. Emerging Infectious Disease. 16(3):418-425. March 2010.

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