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Chikungunya is an Alphavirus species that occurs in tropical Africa, India and over most of southeastern Asia. Service (2008) reports that in 2006 outbreaks occurred among islands of the Indian Ocean, which affected tourists visiting the area. In Africa there are about five main Aedes vectors. There is a high probability that the virus will spread to other geographic areas by travelers.
Symptoms include fever, joint pain and swelling, headache, muscle pain, and rash. It begins with a sudden fever 2-4 days after exposure, which continues for up to seven days. The other body pains that can last for months and sometimes even years follow this. Mortality is under one percent, affecting elderly and chronically ill patients primarily.
Two mosquito species that have been found to transmit the virus to humans are Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti. Reservoir hosts include birds, rodents, monkeys and cattle. There is a resemblance of Chikungunya to Dengue Fever except that only primates serve as reservoir hosts for dengue.
There is neither vaccine nor treatment for the infection. Visitors to areas where the virus occurs are advised to wear protective clothing, to use repellents and to avoid mosquitoes generally.
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