MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lisa Danzig, MD
Chief Medical Office
MedicalResearch.com: Would you briefly explain what is meant by Chikungunya infection? Whom does it primarily affect? How is it transmitted and what the complications?
Response: Chikungunya is caused by the chikungunya virus (CHIKV), an arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) spread by infected mosquitos.
Infection with chikungunya virus results in severe, often debilitating joint pain in infected patients, known as arthralgia. Symptoms can include intense discomfort in joints, such as the wrists, fingers, ankles, and feet, in the knees and in the hips or shoulders. Those affected can also frequently suffer from headaches, fever, and severe muscle pain, rashes on the torso and limbs and swelling in one or more cervical lymph nodes. Individuals who are at a higher risk for contracting chikungunya include infants, elderly and those with chronic conditions.
The virus is a small, spherical, enveloped, positive-strand RNA virus. The virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito, which originated in Africa, first spreading to Asia and recently expanding to the western hemisphere. Outbreaks are rapid and widespread. In February 2005 a major outbreak of chikungunya occurred in the islands of the Indian Ocean after which over 1.9 million cases have been reported in India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar and Thailand.
Chikungunya spread has been identified in 45 countries in the Americas alone with more than 1.7 million suspected cases reported to the Pan American Health Organization since 2015, increasing the incidence of the disease and risk to U.S. travelers. In 2016 there were approximately 60,000 cases of chikungunya across India. Beyond the Indian subcontinent, the Caribbean, Central America and South America, inhabitants and travelers visiting sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are also at risk.