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Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya Fever

22 August 2018

Causative agent

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".

Clinical features

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.

Incubation period

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.

General measures on preventing mosquito-borne diseases

  1. Wear loose, light-coloured, long-sleeved tops and trousers, and use DEET-containing insect repellent on exposed parts of the body and clothing.
  2. Take additional preventive measures when engaging in outdoor activities:
  • Avoid using fragrant cosmetics or skin care products
  • Re-apply insect repellents according to instructions
  • Treat clothing and gears (such as tents, bed nets) with permethrin (an insecticide). Do NOT use permethrin directly on skin
  1. Travellers who return from affected areas and feel unwell, e.g. run a fever, should seek medical advice promptly, and provide travel details to doctor

Help prevent mosquito proliferation

  1. Prevent accumulation of stagnant water
  • Change the water in vases once a week
  • Avoid using saucers underneath flower pots
  • Cover water containers tightly
  • Ensure air-conditioner drip trays are free of stagnant water
  • Put all used cans and bottles into covered dustbins
  1. Control vectors and reservoir of the diseases
  • Store food and dispose of garbage properly

Pregnant women and children of 6 months or older can use DEET-containing insect repellent. For children who travel to countries or areas where mosquito-borne diseases are endemic or epidemic and where exposure is likely, children aged 2 months or above can use DEET-containing insect repellents with a concentration of DEET up to 30%. For details about the use of insect repellents and the key points to be observed, please refer to 'Tips for using insect repellents'.

For more information about control and prevention of mosquito breeding, please visit the website of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) at

Related link: World Health Day 2014