Chikungunya virus

Chikungunya is a febrile viral illness transmitted by mosquitoes. The mosquitoes that are able to transmit Chikungunya virus are not normally found in New Zealand, therefore Chikungunya should only be considered in people who have recently travelled overseas.

Note – the following information on Chikungunya is provided as no particular guidance has previously been available in New Zealand.

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About Chikungunya

Chikungunya is a febrile viral illness transmitted by mosquitoes. Chikungunya shares some clinical signs with dengue and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common. Chikungunya has been identified in nearly 40 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Since 2011 Chikungunya has been identified in the Pacific Region.

The mosquitoes that are able to spread Chikungunya virus are not normally found in New Zealand.

Chikungunya infection is notifiable in New Zealand as an arboviral disease.


Symptoms of Chikungunya infection

The majority of people infected with Chikungunya virus become symptomatic. The incubation period is typically 3–7 days (range, 1–12 days). There is no specific therapy for Chikungunya virus infection and acute symptoms typically resolve within 7–10 days

  • acute onset of fever (typically >39°C)
  • acute onset of polyarthralgia, usually bilateral and symmetric, and can be severe and debilitating
  • headache
  • myalgia
  • arthritis
  • conjunctivitis
  • nausea/vomiting
  • maculopapular rash.

Chikungunya virus infection should be considered in patients with acute onset of fever and polyarthralgia, especially travellers who have recently returned from areas with known virus transmission.

As Chikungunya infection may cause a rash that could be confused other diseases such as dengue and measles, these other diseases do need to be ruled out. Diagnosis of Chikungunya will first and foremost be by exclusion of other diseases such as dengue and measles, based on symptoms and travel history.


Chikungunya virus outbreaks in the Pacific

Chikungunya was first identified in the Pacific, in New Caledonia in 2011. For information on current outbreaks, go to the World Health Organization website.


Further information

Further information on Chikungunya virus is available at:

The World Health Organization: Chikungunya and Other arbo-viral diseases

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Chikungunya virus


Laboratory testing

Consult ESR to discuss appropriate testing and interpretation of results.

No laboratories in New Zealand currently test for Chikungunya virus. If required, local laboratories are advised to forward suspected samples to ESR who will arrange testing at an Australian Arbovirus Reference Laboratory.

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