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What is chikungunya?

Chikungunya is an infection caused by a virus that you can get from a mosquito bite.

What is the cause?

Infected Aedes mosquitoes can pass the virus to you when they bite you. Aedes mosquitoes have been found in the Caribbean, Africa, Southern Europe, and Southeast Asia. This kind of mosquito tends to bite during daytime.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms usually start 3 to 7 days after you are bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Joint pain, often in the hands and feet
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rash
  • Muscle pain

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Your child may have blood tests:

How is it treated?

Symptoms usually last a few days to a few weeks, but your child may feel tired for several weeks.

There is no medicine that cures chikungunya. In most cases you can care for your child at home.

If the infection is serious, your child may need to stay at the hospital. At the hospital, your child may be given IV fluids, pain relievers, or other treatments. Your child is more at risk for a serious infection if he has diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or other medical problems.

How can I take care of my child?

Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. In addition:

  • Let your child rest if he or she is tired.
  • Give acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen, for fever, headache, or muscle aches.
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. Read the label and give as directed. Check with your healthcare provider before you give any medicine that contains aspirin or salicylates to a child or teen. This includes medicines like baby aspirin, some cold medicines, and Pepto-Bismol. Children and teens who take aspirin are at risk for a serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.
    • Acetaminophen may cause liver damage or other problems. Read the label carefully and give your child the correct dose as directed. Do not give more doses than directed. To make sure you don’t give your child too much, check other medicines your child takes to see if they also contain acetaminophen. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, your child should not take this medicine for more than 5 days.

Ask your provider:

  • How and when you will hear your child’s test results
  • How long it will take for your child to recover
  • If there are activities your child should avoid and when your child can return to normal activities
  • How to take care of your child at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

How can I help prevent chikungunya?

Take these precautions to avoid mosquito bites:

  • If you are planning to travel:
    • Schedule travel to tropical areas during seasons when mosquitoes are less active. Try to postpone travel if there are outbreaks of chikungunya
    • Stay in places that are clean, insect free, and have air conditioning or well-screened windows.
  • Don’t use perfume or other scented products on your child’s skin because they can attract mosquitoes.
  • Make sure that your child wears long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Use an insect repellent whenever your child is outdoors. Don't use more repellent than recommended in the package directions. Don't put repellent on open wounds or rashes. Don’t put it near your child’s eyes or mouth. When using sprays for the skin, don’t spray the repellent directly on your child’s face. Spray the repellent on your hands first and then put it on your child’s face. Children older than 2 months can use repellents with no more than 30% DEET. DEET should be applied just once a day. Wash it off your body when you go back indoors.
    • Picaridin may irritate the skin less than DEET and appears to be just as effective.
    • Spray clothes with repellents because mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Products containing permethrin are recommended for use on clothing, shoes, bed nets, and camping gear. Permethrin-treated clothing repels and kills ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects and can keep working after laundering. Permethrin should be reapplied to clothing according to the instructions on the product label. Some commercial products are available pretreated with permethrin. Permethrin does not work as a repellent when it is put on the skin.
    • In some studies, oil of lemon eucalyptus, a plant-based repellent, provided as much protection as repellents with low concentrations of DEET, but it hasn't been as well tested as DEET. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under age 3.
    • Some repellents can make children ill if they put it in their mouth or swallow it. Never let young children play with or put repellent on themselves. Adults should put repellent on their own hands, and then put the repellent on the child’s body.
  • Install or repair window and door screens so it is harder for mosquitoes to get indoors.
  • Mosquitoes lay eggs in water. To reduce mosquito breeding, drain standing water. Routinely empty water from flowerpots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, cans, and other items that collect water.

You can get more information from:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-23
Last reviewed: 2014-07-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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