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Chikungunya Travel Advice

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It is characterized by symptoms including fever, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and rash. There are no vaccines for chikungunya, so you should know where in the world chikungunya is prevalent if you are going places.

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The symptoms of Chikungunya usually appear within 4 to 7 days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. Later we will cover what you can do to prevent infection, and what steps to take to lessen discomfort and expedite recovery if you get infected.

This article aims to provide you with a basic understanding of chikungunya, including which groups are most vulnerable, and empower you to make informed decisions for your well-being. Additionally, we will include links to the latest guidelines and insurance plans.

Please also read:

Yellow Fever Travel Advice

The Zika Virus Travel Advice Guide

What Is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is caused by the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and rash. Most people recover within a few days to a couple of weeks, but some may experience persistent joint pain that can last for months or even years.

In addition to chikungunya, travelers should also be aware of other mosquito-borne illnesses including dengue fever and Zika virus. These diseases can have similar symptoms and are also transmitted by infected mosquitoes.

Is Chikungunya Contagious?

Unlike airborne contagious diseases such as influenza and tuberculosis that can spread through breathing, chikungunya is transmitted through mosquito bites. When a mosquito feeds on an infected person, it acquires the virus and can transmit it to another person it feeds on.

The risk of contagion is higher in areas with high population densities and poor sanitation practices. Mosquitoes thrive in stagnant water and dirty environments, making such areas a breeding ground for mosquitoes and virus transmission.

What Groups of People Are Particularly at Risk?

Some people may be more susceptible to severe cases of chikungunya, such as those with underlying medical conditions (diabetes, HIV, etc.), older adults, and young children. Pregnant women should take particular care to avoid mosquito bites as infection can cause birth defects.

Chikungunya infection is particularly risky for newborns, who are likely to have symptoms such as rash, fever, and swelling at the extremities. While some infants experience a mild case that resolves by itself, half of the infected newborns will experience brain inflammation and seizures. Severe cases may lead to problems with bleeding and blood flow, as well as heart issues.

Can I Get Vaccinated Against Chikungunya?

Currently there are no vaccines for Chikungunya

Currently, there is no vaccine available for chikungunya. Prevention of the disease is focused on avoiding mosquito bites and reducing the number of mosquitoes in a given area.

That said, hope may be on the way – Phase II clinical trials were successfully completed in 2021 by two vaccine manufacturers, one based in France and the other in the United States.

What are the Symptoms of Infection?

Fever is a common symptom of Chikungunya

The most common symptoms of Chikungunya virus infection are fever and joint pain, usually beginning 3-7 days after the infected mosquito bites. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, rash, fatigue, nausea, and red eyes.

The common symptoms of chikungunya are:

High fever – Chikungunya virus causes high fever which usually lasts for two to seven days.

Joint pain – Joint pain is the most common symptom of chikungunya, making the disease similar to arthritis. The joint pain is usually severe, especially in the hands, wrists, ankles, and feet.

Headache and muscle pain – Chikungunya virus can cause severe headache and muscle pain, making the person feel weak and fatigued.

Skin rash – Chikungunya infection can result in a skin rash that appears two to five days after the onset of fever. The rash usually covers the face, arms, legs, and trunk.

Nausea and vomiting – Some chikungunya patients may experience nausea and vomiting, especially during the first week of infection.

If infected individuals do not experience significant joint pain, their symptoms are typically mild, which can lead to the infection going unnoticed.

Since many of these symptoms are very similar to those of infections such as dengue and Zika viruses, misdiagnosis can occur.

How Is Chikungunya Diagnosed and What Treatment Options Are Available?

Taking plenty of rest helps the body fight the Chikungunya virus

A blood test can be performed to diagnose the disease. At present there is no specific cure for chikungunya, and treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms and preventing complications.

Medical personnel may recommend over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen to relieve joint pain, headache, and fever. However, aspirin should be avoided since it increases the risk of bleeding complications.

The following treatments are commonly recommended for chikungunya:

Rest – It is essential to take enough rest and reduce physical activity to allow the body to recuperate and fight the virus.

Adequate fluid intake – Drinking plenty of fluids such as water, oral rehydration solutions, coconut water, and fruit juices help rehydrate the body and reduce the risk of dehydration caused by the fever and sweating.

Physical therapy – Physical therapy is recommended to help improve flexibility, strength, and joint mobility following chikungunya infection. Physical therapy also helps to prevent joint stiffness.

Fever prevention – Health personnel may recommend the use of cold compress, sponge baths, or lukewarm water to lower fever caused by chikungunya.

Insect repellents – Mosquito repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil are essential to reduce the risk of mosquito bites and chikungunya transmission.

Are There Long-term Aftereffects of Infection?

Although the joint pain typically lasts for only a few days, in some cases it may persist for extended periods of time, ranging from weeks to months or even years.

On the bright side of things, based on available evidence, individuals who have recovered from chikungunya are likely to have immunity against future infections.

In Which Parts of the World Is Chikungunya More Common?

The first case of chikungunya was identified in Tanzania in 1952. Since then, the virus has spread around the world, and now it is especially common in the tropics and subtropics of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of cases reported globally.

Are There Travel Restrictions in Force Related to Chikungunya?

There are currently no travel restrictions or bans in place for chikungunya, but travelers should be aware of the risk of the disease and take necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

How to Prevent Chikungunya When Abroad

Mosquito nets are useful for preventing Chikungunya infection

If you are planning to travel abroad, especially to areas where chikungunya is prevalent, it’s important to take steps to avoid getting infected. The tips are all aimed at preventing mosquito bites, so feel free to take further sensible steps to the same end. Here are our tips:

Use insect repellent – Wear insect repellent that contains at least 20% DEET on exposed skin and clothing. Reapply the repellent every few hours, especially if you are sweating or swimming. You can also use other types of insect repellent that contain picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Wear protective clothing – Cover up with long-sleeved shirts and long pants, especially during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Light-colored clothing is less attractive to mosquitoes than dark colors.

Sleep under a mosquito net – If you’re sleeping in an area where mosquitoes are prevalent, use a mosquito net treated with insecticide to protect yourself from bites.

Use air conditioning – When possible, stay in accommodations with air conditioning, as mosquitoes tend to avoid cooler temperatures.

Eliminate standing water – Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so be sure to empty any standing water around your living area, including flowerpots, buckets, and other containers.

Choose accommodations carefully – Consider staying in a hotel or resort that has taken measures to prevent mosquito infestation, such as using mosquito nets, screens on windows and doors, and regular fumigation treatments.

Stay informed – Stay informed about outbreaks of chikungunya in the areas you plan to visit and take additional precautions if necessary.

In addition to these tips, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of chikungunya and seek medical attention if you experience any of them after returning from a trip. Although there is no specific treatment for chikungunya, symptoms can be managed with pain relievers and rest.

What Should I Do If I Am Infected While Abroad?

If you get sick abroad with chikungunya, seek medical attention immediately. This is important because healthcare professionals can help manage symptoms and provide guidance on how to prevent further transmission of the virus.

In more severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary to treat complications like dehydration or secondary infections.

Preventing further transmission of the virus is also important in managing chikungunya. Travelers should avoid mosquito bites by following public health advisories and local guidelines.


Although the vast majority of chikungunya infections are not fatal, the disease can still cause a great deal of discomfort, inconvenience and lost productivity, not to mention the fact that for some the aftereffects can include agonizing joint pain that lasts for years.

That’s why it’s imperative to take steps to prevent chikungunya: It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to infectious diseases. For a more comprehensive overview of the most common diseases to be vigilant about when traveling abroad, please check out our most recent article.

However, if you are infected, don’t panic, and seek medical attention immediately. Healthcare professionals will help you manage the symptoms and advise you on how to prevent further transmission of the disease.

One other thing that you should do to protect yourself is to make sure that you have proper travel insurance and health insurance coverage. Like they say, life is uncertain, but at least someone will be there to help you handle whatever life throws at you, if you have proper coverage.

Contact our experts today for more details or a FREE quote.

Frequently Asked Questions

How dangerous is it if a pregnant woman gets chikungunya?

Pregnant women should be especially cautious of chikungunya as there have been cases of transmission to their babies during birth. Infants who contract the virus at such an early stage are more susceptible to a severe form of the disease.

Is there an easy way to tell chikungunya from dengue fever or Zika?

No. The symptoms of these diseases can vary from person to person, and some people may not show any symptoms at all.

If you suspect that you may have one of these diseases, seek medical attention immediately. A doctor or healthcare professional can conduct tests and provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Martin is a writer and translator with over 10 years of experience. He writes articles and blog posts, creates infographics and videos, translates between Chinese and English, and more. Skilled at explaining complicated concepts in layman’s terms, Martin believes the gold standard of translation is attained when the translated text is not only accurate, but also reads like an original text. Martin holds a degree in Economics from the University of London, UK.

Since joining Pacific Prime, Martin has become even more aware of the gap between the true value of insurance products and most people’s appreciation of it, and developed a passion for demystifying and simplifying matters, so that more people get the protection they need at a cost they can easily afford.

In his free time, Martin attends concerts of various genres, and plays the violin with piano accompaniment he pre-recorded himself or played live by his niece.
Martin Lee