Infectious diseases transmitted by the tiger mosquito

Chikungunya

Chikungunya is an infectious disease caused by the chikungunya virus. The disease is present in certain regions of South America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Now that the tiger mosquito has become established in southern Europe, chikungunya epidemics are occurring more frequently (in Italy, for example). In Belgium, only imported cases have been diagnosed in travellers from regions where the virus is circulating.

The chikungunya virus is transmitted by the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and by the mosquito that also transmits yellow fever (Aedes aegypti). An infected pregnant woman can also transmit the disease to her child during childbirth, but this is uncommon.

What are the symptoms and complications?

Most people (around three out of four) infected with the chikungunya virus develop symptoms, after an Incubation period Time between infection and appearance of symptoms. of 2 to 12 days. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and include flu-like symptoms such as high fever, headaches, muscle and joint pain, skin rashes and eye problems. Infants, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses (such as high blood pressure or diabetes) often develop more severe symptoms. Most symptoms disappear after a few weeks, with the exception of joint pain, which can persist for months or years.

How is chikungunya diagnosed?

If the doctor suspects chikungunya, the diagnosis can be made by a blood test. Depending on the stage of the disease, different tests may be used, such as PCR Acronym for polymerase chain reaction, is a technique used in laboratories to amplify DNA fragments. This technique is used for rapid diagnosis of the presence of pathogens, for example. or Serology This involves measuring antibodies (produced by the body in response to the presence of a pathogen) in a blood sample.

How is the disease treated and prevented?

There is no specific treatment for chikungunya. Treatment is symptomatic. Symptoms are treated with analgesics and anti-inflammatories.

Prevention involves avoiding mosquito bites.

Since the beginning of November 2023, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised the marketing of the world's first vaccine against chikunguya. Marketed under the name Ixchiq©, it is approved for people aged 18 and over at increased risk of exposure to the virus. In Europe, at the end of November 2023, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) technically validated the application for marketing authorisation for the vaccine.