A newly emerging infectious viral disease in South-East Asia

Chikungunya fever was thought to be eradicated from the face of the planet in the 1960's when it vanished in India and Sri Lanka, but isolated outbreaks reappeared in the eighties in Burma, Thailand and the Philippines. The name appears to be stemming from Swahili, meaning "that which bends up", referring to the pose the victims strike to relieve the acute joint pain.

After an incubation period of ca 5-12 days the patient develops acute fever above 40 degrees Celsius, severe joint pains and can convulse (most likely due to the pyrexia). The joints of upper and lower extremities are swollen and extremely painful to touch, pain that can last for months after the acute infection.

The disease is transmitted by the Asian Tiger Mosquito Aedes albopictus which infects humans with the responsible pathogen, an Alphavirus from the Togaviridiae family. In November to December 2003 168 people in the Magetan dictrict of East Java were infected and the rest of South East Asia is home to local epidemics.

No vaccine is available, so as usual: protect yourself from mosquito bites.

New Zealand GP, 3 March 2004 , p. 17
J.S. Mackenzie et al: Emerging Viral Diseases of Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific; Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 7, No. 3 Supplement June 2001