Chikungunya fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease caused by the chikungunya virus. The name is derived from the Swahili word meaning "that which bends up".
The disease is characterised by fever frequently accompanied by joint pain. Other common signs and symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. The joint pain is often very debilitating, but usually lasts for a few days or may be prolonged to weeks. Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years.
Mode of transmission
Chikungunya virus is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. The vector Aedes aegypti is not found in Hong Kong but the other vector, Aedes albopictus is widely distributed locally. These mosquitoes can be found biting throughout daylight hours, though there may be peaks of activity in the early morning and late afternoon.
The incubation period is 2 – 12 days.
Travellers returning from countries where the disease is endemic or an outbreak has occurred, and suffer from symptoms of the disease should seek prompt medical advice. Currently, there is no specific antiviral drug treatment for chikungunya fever. Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms, including using anti-pyretics, analgesics and replacement of fluids.
At present, there is no effective vaccine against chikungunya fever. Prevention and control relies heavily on reducing the number of natural and artificial water-filled container habitats that support breeding of the mosquitoes.
Please take the following precautionary measures when travelling overseas:
- Avoid visiting mosquito infested areas.
- Avoid visiting forest.
- Wear loose, light-coloured long-sleeved tops and trousers.
- Use insect repellent containing DEET over the exposed parts of the body.
- Use mosquito screens or nets when the room is not air-conditioned.
- Place mosquito coil or electric mosquito mat / liquid near possible entrance, such as window, to prevent mosquito bites.
- Travellers returning from endemic countries or where there has been an outbreak of chikungunya fever, and suffer from symptoms of the disease should seek prompt medical advice.
To prevent mosquito borne diseases, it is important to eliminate pockets of stagnant water that serve as mosquito breeding sites at home, schools, workplaces and their vicinity, and to avoid mosquito bites. To prevent the accumulation of stagnant water:
- Put all used cans and bottles into covered dustbins.
- Change water for plants at least once a week, leaving no water in the saucers underneath flower pots.
- Cover tightly all water containers, wells and water storage tanks.
- Keep all drains free from blockage.
- Top up all defective ground surfaces to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water.
For details about the use of insect repellents, please refer to 'Tips for using insect repellents’.
For more information about control and prevention of mosquito breeding, please visit the website of Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) at http://www.fehd.gov.hk/english/safefood/handbook_prev_mos_breeding.html
If you notice any mosquito breeding sites in public places, you may call the FEHD's Hotline 2868 0000.
Related link: World Health Day 2014