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What Is The Chikungunya Virus - The Disease From Hell

Carolee is a passionate writer with a love for learning and teaching. She is a published author, poet, blogger, and content creator.

When we got the Chikungunya

It was a normal day like any other in the month of September 2014. We’d gone to get tiles for the house. When my feet started to ache, I jokingly reminded myself of the days when I was able to stand on my feet all day without feeling much pain. I quickly found a chair in the store as we waited for our transactions to clear. I also noticed my mom grimacing as she sat in the chair the attendant gave her.

By the following morning my mom was in pain and both my feet were sore. We thought the previous days’ activities had caused this severe soreness so we went about our business. I took my mom to her diabetic clinic and while talking to her I noticed how warm her hands were, but she insisted she was fine.

By that Thursday evening she had a very high fever and I was feeling less than myself. Her pain was so severe that she could not change her own clothes and she could barely walk. By midnight I was in severe pain in my muscles and joints and a fever was coming on.

The chikungunya virus first attacks the most vulnerable joints and in our case it was our feet. Our feet would have already been sore from extended walking and standing. For some it starts with the fingers and hands. The pain was so severe it felt like someone pierced my knees with a Rambo knife! The joints became sore and inflamed, like arthritis and the more I moved around the the worse the pain got.

Chikungunya rash

Chikungunya rash

What is the Chikungunya Virus?

Chikungunya is a viral disease that is spread by the Aedes Egypti or the Aedes Albopictus mosquito. The disease is spread when the mosquito bites an infected person then passes on the infection to another through its bite. The mosquito is only a vector and not the source.

Like the flu, the chikungunya symptoms (such as aches and fever) will last anywhere between three days and two weeks. However, there are lingering effects such as joints pains which will not go away anytime soon.

The Aedes Albopictus mosquito also spreads the virus that causes dengue fever.

Where did it come from?

The virus was first detected in Makonde, Africa in 1952. It is believed that the origin of this disease is in East Africa where the virus circulates between the forest mosquitoes and animals. In this region, there are not many human dwellings so the illness is not as widespread in human as in the communities.

In the forest, there seems to be a continual cycle in the spread between animals and mosquitoes.

How Chikungunya got its name

In the land of Makonde the people speak Makonde. Their word for “what bends up” is chikungunya. In Swahili, this word means “the illness of the bended walker". However, the term did not originate in Swahili but in Makonde. The term derived from the way people would walk in a sort of stooped position when the illness affects their joints.

Chikungunya virus symptoms

The symptoms of the Chikungunya virus are:

  • Very painful joints (not like you’ve experienced before), that may last for months or years after first contracting the virus. You may also encounter swelling of the affected areas. If you are arthritic you may have a more severe reaction to this disease which will debilitate you somewhat.
  • Fever, can be mild to severe and must be taken care of as soon as possible.
  • May also cause flu like symptoms (not always).
  • Headache in some persons. If you have migraines beware as you are likely to suffer headaches during the period of illness.
  • Loss of appetite in some
  • Diarrhea or vomiting in some
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Mild to severe rash with itching. Up t 50% of the persons who contract this disease experience some form of rash. It may be an isolated area or the entire body. This rash usually disappears within a few days.

People most affected by the chikungunya disease

Pregnant women in their final few weeks of pregnancy should be careful not to contract this disease as their unborn child may be born with the virus.

Persons with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure are especially vulnerable as the virus affects them more than healthier persons. People with these illnesses will/may experience severe symptoms of the virus.

Newborns and elderly person should be extra careful as well, as they are more at risk of being infected due to weaker immune systems.

Chikungunya treatment

It is recommended that persons affected by the chikungunya disease get plenty of rest. Unlike the flu, physical activity makes you feel worse. The pain caused by this virus is exacerbated by exercise. Be careful for the first few days of the illness that you do not overexert yourself.

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Dehydration occurs frequently in patients with this illness because of the constant low grade fever for the first few days which can last up to one week. You may feel fine on the outside but still having an increased internal temperature which can cause you to dehydrate. Drink plenty of fluids.

If you experience prolonged muscle or joint paints pay your doctor or the nearest health center a visit. This prolonged pain may be caused by inflammation in the joints and muscles.

If you aren’t sure that you have chikungunya, it is recommended that you not take painkillers with aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs. This is due to that increased risk of bleeding, especially if you have caught the dengue fever. Dengue symptoms and chikungunya are quite similar so you must be sure of what you have before taking any drugs. It is best to consult your health care provider before taking any medications at all.

The chikungunya virus cannot be cured and must run its course as with any virus.

Virus Chikungunya prevention

The virus Chikungunya is spread by mosquitoes that bite during the daytime. Getting rid of the mosquitoes from your surroundings is the best measure for keeping healthy. Remember that mosquitoes spread other diseases as well. You can reduce the risk of getting the disease by doing the following:

Mosquito Breeding

  • Cover water containers(tanks, barrels, drums) that are stored outdoors and treat them with bleach to prevent breeding.
  • Get rid of any container that may catch and store water unknowingly such as old pots, cans, tires and bottles. These are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
  • Keep garbage containers covered at all times.
  • Punch holes in cans before throwing them in the garbage.
  • Change water in vases frequently and keep flower pot saucers free of water. Or, keep indoor plant in moist soil instead of water.
  • Change animal water cans frequently.

Preventing mosquito bites

  • Use repellants containing DEET on skin
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants: cover up as much as possible. It is also recommended to wear light colored clothing as dark clothing tend to attract mosquitoes.
  • Using mosquito coils will help repel them but be careful not to place burning coil near fabric. Keep children away from the coil while it burns.
  • Electric vaporization mats are highly recommended
  • If possible screen windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes and other bugs from coming in.
  • Use a mosquito net around cribs and beds.

The chikungunya virus may not be deadly but it is quite debilitating. It causes severe pain in many, especially the elderly which causes them to walk with a stoop. My mom was a victim and it became quite difficult for her to walk on the first day after contracting this virus.

It is believed that the virus will spread through the tropical region and has already affected several Caribbean countries. Jamaica is currently experiencing an outbreak in its eastern parishes and is rapidly spreading through the island.

Beware of scams

There are people claiming that they have the right treatment or cure for the Chik V, however this is not so. This is a viral disease, only vaccines work on viral diseases. Viruses must run their course before they leave their host, they cannot be cured.

Make yourself as comfortable as possible. Get time off from work to rest so you can recuperate quickly. The Ministry of Health in Jamaica said that the virus can remain up to three years in your system after the initial symptoms. You may experience joint and muscle pains for a long while afterwards.

Personal tips from experience

Keeping healthy and boosting the immune system is the best remedy. Here are a few tips to help you deal

  • You will lose your appetite at some point but you must eat to keep your strength up.
  • Take your daily vitamins and minerals as usual, this will help to boost the immune system.
  • If possible, see your personal doctor. Health centers are overrun with patients and short staffed. You will not get the personal attention you need. Paracetamol or panadol only helps the fever but not the joint paint.
  • Have your doctor confirm the disease with a blood test. This will help him to determine the line of treatment.
  • Rest, rest and rest some more.
  • Do not ice your aching joints or muscles, cold make it worse.
  • Bathe in warm water
  • Use baking soda in warm water to ease itching when you get the rash. Don’t use lotions, oils or creams when you get the rash, they will make it worse.
  • IMPORTANT: Change bed clothing and night clothing (sleepwear) every morning for the first few days. We aren’t sure why, but we found that people who sleep in the same clothing and bedding during the illness take longer to recover. We believe it’s something to do with what is excreted in our sweat for the first few days.
  • Drink lots of juice and clear fluids.

Complications from the Chikungunya

Though the disease itself is not fatal, you may develop complications from other illnesses you may have before. In Jamaica, several people have died due to complications developed as a result of contracting the Chik V.

  • A teacher with the sickle cell disease died when he developed complications
  • Another teacher with kidney disease saw rapid deterioration in kidney health after getting the virus.
  • A 16 year old boy with a brain tumor also passed away after getting the virus.

It is believed that these people died due to the break down in their immune system.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on May 11, 2015:

Hi Paula. I believe to this day we have residual symptoms but not very severe.

Being allergic to mosquito bites will certainly exacerbate the problem, I hope this doesn't come anywhere near your location.

Thanks for a wonderful comment. Have a great day!

Suzie from Carson City on May 10, 2015:

Cardisa....Oh my! Although not often fatal, this certainly sounds like something one would want to avoid at all costs! I hope you & mother are well and do not suffer with the symptoms or after effects for long.

I hate mosquitoes of all kinds because I know that they do all carry something wretched. I am highly allergic to an ordinary misquito bite. I surely wouldn't want something of this caliber!

You have presented a wonderful & carefully noted explanation, covering every base.

Did someone say, "Highly suggestive?" My arms are ITCHING!!!......Very interesting, Cardisa......UP++

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on January 14, 2015:

Peachpurple, dengue is totally different but with almost identical symptoms, so maybe it wasn't Chik V at all.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 14, 2015:

in malaysia, we called it dengue, bitten by the deadly mosquito can cause malaria and death

Lucinna from Caribbean on November 26, 2014:


Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 26, 2014:

Hello Lucinna, welcome to the Hubpages community.

Having a lot of vitamin C does help to boost the immune system, but I tell you, this is a terrible disease. I agree with you, that it took the Caribbean by surprise. I hope you stay well.

Have a great day!

Lucinna from Caribbean on November 26, 2014:

Hi Cardisa, as you can tell I am new to this site. I have not even uploaded a pic or anything but I found your article and really wanted to contribute a comment :). I to am from the Caribbean, I believe this virus caught the whole region off guard. Many of the older folks have never even heard of the virus. I was one of the persons who was bless not to get the disease but some of my family members and friends got it. From what I have heard and read the virus is terrible. One of my friends said the pain is worse than giving birth. I have heard of men who bawl because of the pain, all they could have done was curl up in their beds as they were unable to move. One thing that helped many folks was Lemon and Lime water as well as eating lots of orange, at least many of my friends and family who did this got over the disease in two to three days.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 08, 2014:

Rosetta, wow, that was some outbreak! So glad you too were okay. You are right, this is a crazy virus and I don't ever want to get it again.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 08, 2014:

Drwahid, wow that is some work you've done. I have found many people falsely telling people that they have the right treatment when they on't. So glad you were not one of them.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 08, 2014:

Hi Thief12, love your Sorry to hear that the ChikV has reached your neck of the woods. I hope you and your family are safe.

Rosetta Slone from Under a coconut tree on November 08, 2014:

I live in Reunion Island, where we had a serious Chik V epidemic back in 2006. I know many people that got it, and there were dozens of deaths at the time. Since then, everyone is very aware of the risks and there is a government campaign to get rid of standing water, etc to prevent mosquito breeding. Glad you recovered quickly and are now able to educate people about this crazy virus.

dr wahid pirzada from Ahmedabad, India on November 07, 2014:

Hi!during an outbreak of chikunguniya few years back in Gujarat and particularly in ahmedabad and gandhinagar where I practices,homoeopathic medicines not only cured many cases but there were speedy recovery without post chikungunia arthritis.

Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on November 07, 2014:

Great hub. A lot of people are getting it here!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 02, 2014:

Hello Techygran, thank you for a very nice comment. The temperature has a lot to do with the where this virus would fester. I don't these viruses like cooler temperatures like Canada and hopefully you wont experience this one. We are doing much better, thank you.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 02, 2014:

Hello Craiger-m, the threat of virus outbreaks here in the west have us running scared. I hope the threat will be over really soon.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 02, 2014:

HI Elsie, I do hope you wont encounter this virus in your neck of the woods. My mom and I are doing much better, thank you!

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on November 01, 2014:

Dear Cardisa, a very interesting, useful, well-written hub, and worthy of the HOTD-- congratulations!

I originate from a part of Canada (Saskatchewan) in the "heartland", so to speak, where mosquitoes are a terror in the summer. However, they do not carry any 'tropical' diseases. I chose to move to Vancouver Island where it is said that the sea winds keep flies and mosquitoes down, but if that were the case, wouldn't sea winds keep mosquitoes down in the Caribbean? I believe that it must also have something to do with the temperate climate (in combination with the sea winds?) I had enough mosquito bites in my childhood and youth to last me a lifetime, but, thankfully, nothing like you have to contend with. Best to you for a speedy recovery!

Voted up, pinned, and shared.

The Hatter from Great Britain on November 01, 2014:

Interesting to learn about this virus given the current health scares going on around the world.

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on November 01, 2014:

Interesting, I have never heard of it here in New Zealand, so hopefully I will be all good and never have any problems.

Hope you and your mother are well now with no itching and pain.

Congratulations for HOTD

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Thanks for the suggestion Solaras, I'll tell my friends about that.

Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on November 01, 2014:

One thing I know people here do that want to keep rain barrels to collect water ifsstock them with goldfish. Goldfish will eat mosquito eggs. Just a suggestion for those who do need to store water for gardens.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Thanks as always Nell. :D

Nell Rose from England on November 01, 2014:

Thanks Cardisa, those little suckers are so darn deadly, thank goodness you are okay now, apart from the aches and pains, and once again, great hub!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Thank you IslandBites.

IslandBites from Puerto Rico on November 01, 2014:

Great hub!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Hi Marisa. Though the ebola is more deadly the ChilV is chronic. I don't know which is scarier but I hate that it's till in my system lingering, causing me pain...I hate it! I really hope it doesn't get to Australia. Your Government should take the necessary precautions to prevent breeding of mosquitoes.

Kate Swanson from Sydney on November 01, 2014:

The Australian government is very worried that Chikungunya is bound to arrive here eventually. We already have other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever and Ross River fever. ChikV sounds even more horrid, especially as it lasts for such a long time.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Hi Nell, thank you! Yes, the dengue and ChikV has similar symptoms so the proper thing is for the doctors to do a blood test to accurately diagnose you. Sorry about your friend, hope they are doing better. it took a couple of weeks before I started feeling like myself, but I still have mild to moderate joint pains.

Nell Rose from England on November 01, 2014:

Hi Cardisa, congrats on HOTD! one of my friends on here comes from trinidad and has suffered with dengue fever over the last few weeks, so this is a similar thing? how awful, but what great information! how long did it take you to really get over it?

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Hello Chaeadumer, malaria is not very popluar here. There were a few cases of dengue during the ChikV outbreak, but this virus took us by surprise.

David B Katague from Northern California and the Philippines on November 01, 2014:

Congrats on HOTD. I am familiar with malaria, but this is the first time I heard of Chik Virus, Thanks for writing this hub. Good Day!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Hi Steve, I know exactly what you mean. In Jamaica, some places living conditions are poor, but some areas are great. Thanks for stopping by.

StvRich from East Rockaway - Long Island - Planet: Earth ~ on November 01, 2014:

excellent article... IF a bit frightening...

we ARE blessed overall in America, with great living conditions...

so many people in other countries live with far worse things daily

and accept it as a part of "normal" life.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Hi Solaras, yes we are feeling better thank you. Still some joint aches but we are coping.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Hanymanbill, yes, mosquitoes are dangerous critters! You never know when you'll get ill from their bites. I can't believe I got the virus and it could have been worse. There were worse cases than ours.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Hello Whonunuwho, nice Thanks for stopping by and you are most welcome.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Thanks Sallybea :)

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Thank you Susan. We are doing much better, but i must confess that pain in the knees and knuckles are still a sore point for us!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Hi Mary615, mosquitoes are vectors for many ilnesses, some even fatal. I hope the ChikV is not in your neck of the woods.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Hello Craan, your husband is partially right, that blood is yours and a few others he might have bitten before you. If he bit you any at all he can spread the virus to you if he go tit from someone else. I hope that's not the case. Thanks for stopping by.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Thanks Lionrhod. It is fairly new in this part of the world but very popular in Africa. I just wish it had stayed where it

Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on November 01, 2014:

Great hub - I hope you are feeling better!

Bill from Greensburg Pennsylvania on November 01, 2014:

First time I have ever heard of this. I know mosquito,s carry a lot of different disease. Great hub thanks

whonunuwho from United States on November 01, 2014:

Thank for this important and informative work. We all need to be more aware and take proper precautions about these diseases and the source. Whonu

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on November 01, 2014:


Congrats on the HOTD choice.

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on November 01, 2014:

How horrible, but how interesting. I've heard of this but never read about it up until now. Thanks for the very useful information. I hope you and your mother will be totally restored to good health. Congratulations on Hub of the Day honors today for this very interesting article.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on November 01, 2014:

I have never heard of this disease. There is a mosquito here in Florida that causes heartworms in dogs. I have to give our dogs a prevention tablet once a month so they don't get these.

Very interesting and informative Hub. Congrats on HOTD. Voted UP, etc. and shared.

Sheila Craan from Florida on November 01, 2014:

Thank you, Cardisa for this valuable information! I wasn't aware of the complications of the Chikungunya Virus. Yesterday, while giving out candy and books to my Trick or Treaters, a black mosquito landed on my leg. I innocently tapped and killed it, however, its blood splattered and smeared my skin. Can someone contact a mosquito virus like this? My husband said it was my blood, except I don't believe him!

Lionrhod from Orlando, FL on November 01, 2014:

This virus sounds nasty! I'd never heard of it - glad to know in case I ever come across the symptoms. Mosquitoes dangerous little buggers. Congrats on HOTD!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Thank you David.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Thanks Frank, I hope you don't ever get this disease.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 01, 2014:

Thank You! This is very scary, just tat it's not fatal. I hate having it and even now I feel joints pains.

David Cassar from United Kingdom on November 01, 2014:

Great Hub, never even heard of this !

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on November 01, 2014:

wow it is scary.. an insect that tiny... I never heard of the virus but I don't doubt its severity... wonderful share and congrats on hub of the day choice :)

mySuccess8 on November 01, 2014:

A very informative and useful guide for tourists and locals in countries where the disease can occur. I have been to countries in the tropics where I saw large-scale efforts continue to be taken to clear mosquito breeding grounds. It is important to prevent mosquito bites, because mosquitoes can transmit a host of other diseases, including dengue fever which shares some similar clinical signs with chikungunya viral disease. Congrats on Hub of the Day!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on October 23, 2014:

Hello Chrisantonio, thank you. Yes, we are better now. I do hope you and your family don't get this disease. Please do your best to prevent mosquitoes breeding around your home.

Have a great day.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on October 21, 2014:

Hello Cheeky Kid. Depending on where you live, you may never encounter it but it pays to be careful non-the-less. Thanks for stopping by.

Cheeky Kid from Milky Way on October 21, 2014:

I have never heard of it. But, I'll keep this as a guide for when i actually encounter it.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on October 19, 2014:

Hello Teaches12345, Thanks for stopping by. It seems that all these diseases that come from West Africa are related somehow.

Dianna Mendez on October 19, 2014:

This post makes you think twice about being outside after dark! Thanks for sharing on chikungunya. It does have some first stage elements of Ebola. You always have excellent topics to share.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on October 19, 2014:

Hi Kelly, I am not sure how prevalent Chikungunya is in the US but I would suspect that it would be localized to warmer states such as Texas, Arizona and states with temperate climates.

Kelly Connors from San Antonio, Texas on October 19, 2014:

Thank you for this article. I am somewhat of an outdoorsman in Texas and hadn't heard of this insect-borne illness, as of before reading this article. VERY informative except I wished there had been a map of the US showing predominant cases and locations to ascertain its geography. In all, a fine piece of journalism from a first person perspective.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on October 17, 2014:

Gluthathionepath, no I don't.

glutathionepath on October 16, 2014:

Do you know anything about glutathione with CHIKV?

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on October 15, 2014:

Wow, I've never heard of this. Mosquitoes cause so many illnesses. Thank's for pointing out what we can do to be safe from their bite...

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on October 15, 2014:

Hi Ruby. My mom and I are just recovering from the illness, however, we are still experiencing joint pains. I hope you are safe from it because it can be quite debilitating. Thanks for stopping by.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on October 14, 2014:

Thanks for the info. I know next to nothing about Malaria, I now have to do some research

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on October 14, 2014:

Yes, it is found in tropical countries mostly. There are four different types of malaria parasite: Plasmodium falciparum is the cause of fatal malaria, while Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium malariae cause more benign types of malaria. The relative who passed away - died from Cerebral malaria and my son got a recurring type of malaria.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on October 14, 2014:

Hi Sallybea, sorry to hear about your relative. I hope your son malaria curable? Mosquitoes prefer tropical climates. The UK is too cool for them.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on October 14, 2014:

Very useful Hub for people who live in an area where this virus thrives. One of my relatives died from cerebral malaria and my son has a recurring type of malaria carried by mosquitoes in Africa. You have provided some very useful advice on trying to prevent mosquitoes from breeding around the home. I certainly don't miss mosquitoes - fortunately I seldom see any in the UK. A real blessing indeed. I hope you have now recovered from this nasty virus.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on October 14, 2014:

Thanks James. Wow, some of these illnesses seems man made to me but the origin of this virus makes me think differently.

James W. Nelson from eastern North Dakota on October 14, 2014:

Scary stuff, Carolee, the bugs are gonna rule the world yet. They figure after a nuclear war, eventually only the cockroaches will be around.

Really good job on this article, my friend.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on October 13, 2014:

Hi Rasta, it'd interesting that you mentioned mosquitoes rarely bite you. My fiancé is the same. he is the only one I know that is unaffected by this virus.

Marvin Parke from Jamaica on October 13, 2014:

I had a friend who had chik V. I visited him twice while he was sick. He looked pretty bad and he said it was worse than dengue fever. This was in Montego Bay. So it is in western Jamaica too.

I notice mosquito's rarely bite me. I think its because I drink a lot of cerasse tea. I gave another family member some and they experienced less mosquito bites too.

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