Chikungunya Fever Guide

History of Chikungunya Disease

Chikungunya(pronounced as chiki-en-GUN-yah) disease was first detected in 1952 in africa at a place called Makonde Plateau. This is a border area between Tanzania and Mozambique. The name "chikungunya" is from the Makonde language and its meaning is "that which bends up". This is a reference to the Chikungunya symptom where patients walk in a stooped posture due to joint pain. Chikungunya is also known as Chicken guinea, Chicken gunaya and Chickengunya. The similarity to the word "Chicken" has also lead to a lot of misconceptions about the disease.

There were two medical reports published in 1955 which identified and described Chikungunya disease. "An epidemic of virus disease in Southern Province, Tanganyika Territory, in 1952-53. II. General description and epidemiology" by W.H.R. Lumsden and "An epidemic of virus disease in Southern Province, Tanganyika Territory, in 1952-53. I. Clinical features." by M. Robinson looked at the infections at Makonde Plateau. In these papers, authors note the similarity of Chikungunya to Dengue fever.

Since 1952, Chikungunya showed cyclical outbreaks. Most number of Chikungunya cases were reported between 1960 and 1982 in africa and asia. The disease was not reported for a long time and it reappeared in 1999. From 2003 onwards frequent outbreaks were reported especially in south India. Following is a short summary of reported outbreak of Chikungunya worldwide.

Chikungunya cases reported

  • 1952 - Outbreak of Chikungunya detected in Makonde Plateau.
  • 1955 - Marion Robinson and W.H.R. Lumsden identifies and describes Chikungunya.
  • 1963/64 - Chikungunya detected Indian cities mainly calcutta, maharashtra and vellore. The number of infections were in lakhs (100,000+) and over 200 deaths were reported.
  • 1969 - Chikungunya detected in Srilanka.
  • 1975 - Chikungunya detected in Vietnam and Myanmar.
  • 1982 - Chikungunya detected in Indonesia.
  • 2005/2006 - Chikungunya was reported in Reunion Islands and about 200 people died due to the disease. It was also widely reported from south Indian states namely Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradhesh.
  • 2007/2008 - Chikungunya infection was reported from various parts of India. It spread to other south asian countries including Maldives and Pakistan. By 2008, infection was reported from Italy, Singapore and Australia.

Chikungunya global distribution map (countries affected)

Following is a map of Chikungunya infection rate in 2007 (from WHO report),

Following is a map of Chikungunya infection distribution across world in 2008 (from CDC report),

Following are the countries from where Chikungunya infection is reported (as of March 2008),

Benin Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Central African Republic
Comoros Congo East Timor Gunea India
Indonesia Italy Kenya Laos Madagascar
Malawi Malaysia Mauritius Mayotte Myanmar
Nigeria Pakistan Philippines Reunion Senegal
Seychelles Singapore South Africa Srilanka Sudan
Taiwan Tanzania Thailand Uganda Vietnam


Chikungunya in India

Most number of Chikungunya infections(which peaked in 2006) are reported from India. Majority of infections are reported from southern states (Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu). The total infections reported is over 1.3 million and in some areas about 50% of the population is affected by this disease. Also a large number of infections are unreported or are misdiagnosed.

Next : What causes Chikungunya fever?