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.
General measures on preventing mosquito-borne diseases
Help prevent mosquito proliferation
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 http://www.fehd.gov.hk/english/pestcontrol/handbook_prev_mos_breeding.html
Related link: World Health Day 2014