Chikungunya: Symptoms, Complications, and Treatment


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What is chikungunya?

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease, very similar to dengue. The mosquitoes which spread it are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes acquire the virus when they feed on an infected person. The virus spreads in the system of the mosquito and reaches its salivary glands. Soon after, when the mosquito feeds on a person, it infects him.

The infection lasts for 2 to 12 days.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, you need to consult your family physician or a general physician immediately:

  • continuous high fever (above 38.5 degree Celsius)
  • debilitating joint pain and redness or soreness in the joint areas
  • rashes on the skin
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • sensitivity to light
  • headache

How does chikungunya occur?

Once the Aedes mosquito bites a person suffering from chikungunya, the chikungunya virus enters the mosquito’s system. After getting infected when the mosquito feeds on another person, the virus gets transmitted to the person.

The virus travels through his body and spreads to various glands in the body. It enters the bloodstream and causes inflammation of the blood vessels, causing them to swell and leak.
The chikungunya virus usually targets joints, muscles, skin, and less frequently, the liver, kidneys, eyes and the central nervous system.
The chikungunya virus mainly infects the muscle cells of the body. Once it infects a muscle cell, it keeps reproducing till the cell dies and then the viruses move onto a new cell.
If you contract this disease you may experience severe muscle pains, joint pains, fever and rash.

What are the symptoms of chikungunya? How is chikungunya diagnosed?

The symptoms of chikungunya include:

  • High fever
  • Severe muscle and joint pain
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rash on the skin due to damaged blood vessels
  • Enlarged painful lymph node in the neck
  • Sore throat
  • Painful abdominal cramps
  • Cold fingers and toes
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation


Chikungunya symptoms can often be confused with the symptoms of dengue. However, certain symptoms such as debilitating joint pains are unique only to chikungunya. In fact, it is said dengue plus arthritis is equal to chikungunya.

In dengue, the muscle pain is very noticeable.


A special blood test known as ELISA blood test (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) is done to confirm the presence of chikungunya virus in a patient. During the test, if IgM antibodies are found (which can last up to one year in the blood) it confirms the presence of chikungunya virus in the body.

These antibodies reveal the presence of the chikungunya virus.

What are the complications of chikungunya?

Some complications of chikungunya include:

  • neurological imbalances

  • seizures

  • myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle

  • ocular disease or eye disease (uveitis, retinitis)

  • jaundice caused by liver damage

  • acute renal disease when kidneys get affected

  • severe bullous lesions  

  • neurological diseases, such as meningoencephalitis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, myelitis, or cranial nerve palsies

What is the treatment for chikungunya?


Chikungunya is a self-remitting illness. There is no particular medication or treatment available for chikungunya.

The doctor may advise you to take plenty of rest, fluids, and provide you painkillers. Even while prescribing pain-killers, paracetamol is recommended for treating the pain and fever. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are never prescribed.

The usual treatment for the severe form of chikungunya consists of:

  • Providing Intravenous (IV) fluid and electrolyte replacement
  • Monitoring blood pressure
  • Blood transfusion to replace blood loss, if any
Would you like to consult a doctor for Chikungunya ?

Patient Experiences

Effective Chikungunya Treatment
I will recommend Dr Aashish for Chikunguniya Treatment , as I was suffering from same and had high fever and joint pain . Pain reduced within 1 day and got relieved within 2 days . Though I had to take rest for 3-4 days to get back to normal....Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Aashish Rajendra Singh
Homeopathic Clinic
Arijit Banerjee
Very Satisfied with Chikungunya Treatment
Tired of doctors who treat their patients like cattle and having read his exceedingly good reviews on Practo, I traveled more than half an hour to consult with Dr Nishant for the Chikungunya which had made my life miserable, especially after one doctor said it was 'simple' viral fever (and prescribed antibiotics) and another, having diagnosed Chikungunya, declared me fit after one day of no pain (the pain returned with a vengeance the very next day). To begin with, the clinic was clean and well-managed. My appointment was at 8 pm - the doctor met me without much delay, and the rest of my visit exceeded all expectations. Dr Nishant listened to my entire history with patience, which itself put me at ease because finally a doctor had actually heard me out. He then proceeded to give me a detailed explanation of my condition and its expected progression. Thereafter he typed out my prescription, along with diagnosis, investigations and instructions on when an how to take the medications. He then printed out the prescription - I was taken aback at this, as it was the first time I could actually read and understand a doctor's prescription. He then went ahead and explained to me why he was prescribing each blood test and medication. Lastly, he gave me detailed advice on how to best manage the condition. It is easy for me to be biased towards a doctor who is close to my age, but I think anyone would find Dr Nishant to be very reliable and trustworthy, not just because of his accurate diagnosis, professional approach and use of technology, but also for his grounded and friendly nature - a trait that often seems lacking in others who practice his profession. To sum up, I would trust Dr Nishant not only with my health, but hereafter, also the heath of my family....Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Nishant Singh
Nidaan Clinic
Verified Patient
Relief From Chikungunya
Just excellent.... Very nice & humble doctor. Very polite, answer all my querries. Recommend this clinic for my friends & family....Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Kaushik Shah
Ashwini Eye Clinic & Surgery Centre

Questions answered by trusted doctors

Verified User
Joint pain fatigue exams r coming plz hlp its very tiring I need help fever muscle ache on cefuroxime & pain killers
Dr. Amarpreet Singh Riar
General Practitioner, Delhi
Hello I understand your concern. This is not a big problem and has an easy treatment . But before I prescribe you the treatment, you need to answer the following questions for proper dosages and good treatment. 1. What's your age ? 2. Whats your Height and weight ? 3. Since when do you have this problem ? 4. Do you have any other health problems except this problem? 5. Do you take any other medicines ? 6. Do you have any allergy to any medicines or otherwise? 7. Do you have any acidity problem ? 8. Do you drink or smoke ? 9. Any constipation problem ? 10. Any Drugs history ? Please answer the above questions and private consult for the same. All the best
Dr. Laxman G. Jonwal
Consultant Physician, Mumbai
Hello There,
*Continue Medicines course for prescribed period.
*Beside these medicines follow these instructions for better results:-
1) Rest 4-7 days
2) 6-8 glass Boiled water
3) Electrolyte powder 1tsf + Glucon-D powder 4 tsf in one glass water Four to Five times in a day
4) Freshly cooked hot home made food
5) Lights - easy to digest food -Dal + Rice OR Milk + Rice OR Vegetables
6) Fresh fruit Twice daily at 10-11am and 4-5 pm
Verified User
I got fever on July 14 with multiple joint pain. And after a week fever subsided but left with severe arthritis and complete foot pain, and right hand pain. Have taken corticosteroid injection and hifenac-sr initially and now on 13-day oral steroids and HCQS 200. Today 9th day on steroids but no improvement in pain. The more I walk the worse it gets. If I take just pain killer it never reduces pain since the severity of pain is more. Tried to take ayurvedic medicine but couldn't bear the pain and switched back to regular meds. I am wondering what to do after the steroid course. I can't concentrate on anything and I had joined a new company but unable to go to office. Please suggest.
Dr. Deepthi Rao Gorukanti
General Physician, Hyderabad
Get an RA factor,Uric acid levels,crp,esr done.
You are on right treatment...any furthur modification needs investigations.
Dr. Lohith
General Physician, Bangalore
Would like to see your blood profile, to find out the reason for this unreasonable pain following fever!!! You are on good treatment what is recommended, I can only confirm after some more details. Am not a big fan of Ayurveda for acute problems, however I wouldn't stop if you believe in it.
Ask health queries and get free answers from doctors in 24 hrs

Did you know?

Chikungunya cases high in South India

In India, most of the reported cases have been from Delhi. However, the number of people exposed to the Chikungunya virus is very high in Southern India. Atleast 44% of the people in South India have been exposed to the Chikungunya virus. Most of them did not show any symptoms or were not diagnosed properly.

Women more affected

Chikungunya seems to affect women more than men.

Age range

It is seen to affect individuals of different age groups, however, the most severe form of this disease affects those above 65 years of age. It can be fatal for them. Children are also easily affected by the severe form of this disease.

Can be fatal in certain cases

Chikungunya may prove to be fatal for people with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and thalassemia.

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Home Remedies

Drink Papaya Leaf Juice

Crush some papaya leaves and extract the juice. Drinking this raw juice will quickly bring up the count of blood platelets when you are suffering from chikungunya.

Take Turmeric Powder With Milk

Mix half a spoon of turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk or water and drink. It will help minimise the muscle and joint pains which occur during chikungunya.

Eat Green Leafy Vegetables

Eat plenty of green leafy fibrous vegetables. Vegetables contain vitamins and minerals which help strengthen the immune system of the body and fight infections like chikungunya.

Eat Fruits

Eat plenty of fruits, such as oranges, watermelon, and apples. Fruits provide quick energy boost for people who are feeling weakened due to the high fever during chikungunya.

Take Liquid Based Foods

Take liquid based foods such as dals, gravies, soups. It has been observed that liquid based foods are very effective in fighting chikungunya.