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Expatriate Malaysia Health Guide -  
Chikungunya fever, symptoms and
prevention in Malaysia


What is Chikungunya Fever?

Chikungunya fever is a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Chikungunya virus is a member of the genus Alphavirus, in the family Togaviridae. Chikungunya fever is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., joint swelling), laboratory testing, and the possibility of exposure to infected mosquitoes.

This disease was first detected in 1953 in Tanzania. Since then it has emerged as one of the main causes of disease outbreaks among human populations in African and Asian countries and of late affecting several locations in Europe. It is currently endemic in most countries in the Sub Saharan region in Africa, India, South East Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines. This is not an unknown mysterious disease.

Chikungunya Fever Prevention Malaysia

Chikungunya Symptoms

Chikungunya virus infection can cause a debilitating illness, most often characterized by fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, rash, and joint pain. The term ‘chikungunya’ means ‘that which bends up’ in the Kimakonde language of Mozambique.

Acute chikungunya fever typically lasts a few days to a few weeks, but as with dengue, West Nile fever and other arboviral fevers, some patients have prolonged fatigue lasting several weeks. Additionally, some patients have reported incapacitating joint pain, or arthritis which may last for weeks or months. The prolonged joint pain associated with chikungunya virus is not typical of dengue.

The fever can occur for a period ranging from 1 to 7 days (usually about 5 days). Chikungunya is commonly mistaken for Dengue Fever due their similar clinical symptoms.

The best way to prevent chikungunya virus infection is to avoid mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or preventive drug currently available. Prevention tips are similar to those for other viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, such as dengue or West Nile.

- Use insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 on exposed skin. Always follow the directions on the package.

- Wear long sleeves and pants (ideally treat clothes with permethrin or another repellent).

- Have secure screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

- Get rid of mosquito sources in your yard by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.

Additionally, a person with chikungunya fever should limit their exposure to mosquito bites to avoid further spreading the infection. The person should use repellents when outdoors exposed to mosquito bites or stay indoors in areas with screens or under a mosquito net.

Seek immediate medical attention from the nearest clinic or hospital if you experience signs and symptoms of Chikungunya.

Can Chikungunya cause death?

In Malaysia, Chikungunya has never been reported as causing haemorrhage (bleeding) or death. However, some patients experience prolonged symptoms. Aged patients could suffer from recurrent joint aches ranging from several months to a year.

For further information please contact:

Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC)
Disease Control Division
Ministry of Health Malaysia
Level 3, Block E10, Parcel E
Federal Government Administrative Centre
62590 Putrajaya, Malaysia

Tel: 603-8881 0600 / 8881 0700

Website: www.moh.gov.my

Always consult a physician regarding health problems or medical conditions 

Other health related articles:
Dengue Fever info, symptoms, transmission prevention, treatment in Malaysia

Hand Foot Mouth Disease HFMD info, symptoms, transmission, prevention, treatment in Malaysia

Bird/Avian Flu information and facts

Medical Services in Malaysia for Expatriates

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