Chika-what?

The CDC recently sent out an alert (June 17th, 2014) to healthcare providers regarding the outbreak of the infection caused by the chikungunya virus in multiple Caribbean countries (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/watch/chikungunya-caribbean).

The chikungunya virus is an RNA virus that was originally described in infected individuals in Tanzania, but outbreaks have been found in Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and more recently to Europe and the Americas.  This is virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti / albopictus mosquitos.  Symptoms usually appear in two to twelve days after a bite from an infected mosquito.

The symptoms of infection with this virus include abrupt onset of fever and severe subacute bilateral and symmetric polyarthritis and arthralgias .  In addition, patients can also experience headache, fatigue, nausea, and exanthema. The arthralgias can persist even after resolution of the infection – lasting up to weeks. As with other infectious processes, complications have been noted in the elderly with this disease.

While there is no cure for chikungunya viral infection, the disease is often self-limiting, and most patients make a full recovery.