What Causes Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is a viral disease that is primarily transmitted to humans through the bites of infected Aedes mosquitoes, particularly Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes are also responsible for transmitting other diseases like dengue fever and Zika virus.

The virus responsible for causing chikungunya is called the chikungunya virus (CHIKV), which belongs to the Alphavirus genus of the Togaviridae family. The virus was first identified in Tanzania in the 1950s.

When an infected mosquito bites a person, the virus can be transmitted to that person’s bloodstream. Once inside the body, the virus replicates and spreads to different tissues, causing symptoms like fever, joint pain, muscle pain, headache, rash, and fatigue. Joint pain, in particular, can be quite severe and is a distinguishing feature of chikungunya.

While mosquito bites are the primary mode of transmission, other modes of transmission can occur, such as from mother to child during childbirth, and in rare cases, through blood transfusions and organ transplants.

It’s important to note that there is no direct person-to-person transmission of chikungunya. That is, an infected person cannot spread the virus to another person through casual contact. Mosquito control measures, such as using insect repellents, wearing protective clothing, and eliminating mosquito breeding sites, are key to preventing the spread of chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases.