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Disease Directory

Chikungunya

What is chikungunya?
Chikungunya is an illness caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. Symptoms of chikungunya include fever, headache, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, rash, and muscle or joint pain. Symptoms usually last for a few days to a few weeks, but some people may feel tired for several weeks.

Who is at risk?
Travelers who go to Asian or African countries are at risk of getting chikungunya. The mosquito that carries chikunguya can bite during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors, and often lives around buildings in urban areas.

Since 2004, millions of cases have occurred in countries near the Indian Ocean. From 2004 to 2009, 105 cases of chikungunya fever were reported in travelers returning to the United States.

What can travelers do to prevent chikungunya?
There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent chikungunya. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.

Prevent mosquito bites:

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
  • Use an appropriate insect repellent as directed.
  • Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. Use products with the following active ingredients:
    • DEET (Products containing DEET include Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon)
    • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan [outside the US])
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals)
    • IR3535 (Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)
  • Always follow product directions and reapply as directed:
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
    • Follow package directions when applying repellent on childrenExternal Web Site Icon. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes, and mouth.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself:
    • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See the product information to find out how long the protection will last.
    • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
    • Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
  • Stay and sleep in screened or air conditioned rooms.
  • Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

If you are bitten by mosquitoes:

  • Avoid scratching mosquito bites.
  • Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to reduce itching.