7 Symptoms of Chikungunya

Chikungunya is a lesser-known virus that has been slowly creeping north into the US and Europe. The virus has been detected in over 100 countries now and has spread to 5 continents. Much like the more well-known malaria virus Chikungunya is transmitted by mosquitoes.

Observations of the virus were first recorded in Tanzania in 1952, and at the time the virus was only known to be transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti breed of mosquitoes. It is believed that at some point the virus mutated to be able to be transmitted by the Aedes Albopictus mosquito, more commonly known as the Asian Tiger mosquito. These mosquitos are native to East Asia but have been quickly spreading to all corners of the globe and have proven themselves to be very adept at overwhelming native mosquito populations and spreading infections.

Once a mosquito transmits the virus to someone it will begin to replicate in their cells. Normally this replication process takes about a week before the virus has reached a certain critical mass and symptoms begin to manifest. In about three-quarters of people, symptoms will appear suddenly and can be debilitatingly painful. If you’ve been in an environment where you could have been bitten by a mosquito recently and have been exhibiting fever like symptoms then read on to see what telltale signs you should be on the lookout for to see if you might have Chikungunya.

1. Eye Redness

Most of the symptoms associated with the Chikungunya virus are caused by your body’s natural inflammation response. Unlike bacteria, your body has a very hard time ridding itself of viruses. This is because white blood cells, the fighting force of your body, are designed with long tendrils that can reach out and grab a bacterial cell and consume it, destroying it entirely. Viruses, on the other hand, actually want to be inside your cells. This is how they implant the DNA they carry into your cells, subsequently hijacking the cell with its own genetic information, transforming the cell into a factory for more of the virus.

Because of this your body often has to inflame the area and flush it with blood to try and get the harmful virus out of the area to protect your cells. One way this can manifest itself is conjunctivitis or redness of the eyes. Typically, in viral conjunctivitis, the person’s eyes will turn a distinct pink color and won’t necessarily show individual veins. This is one of the less common symptoms of Chikungunya but is a very distinct sign of a mosquito-borne viral infection when present with other symptoms.