Chikungunya cases reported in Italy
In recent weeks, several cases of chikungunya have been reported in Rome and the coastal area of Anzio and Latina in Italy. Chikungunya is an infection caused by the chikungunya virus and causes fever, joint pain, headache, muscle pain and a rash. Symptoms usually resolve with a week but occasionally joint pain may last for months. The disease can be fatal in about 1 in 1,000 people who contract it. People who are at risk of serious disease include:
- pregnant women
- people with weakened immune systems (such as patient living with cancer or HIV/AIDS)
- people suffering from severe chronic illness like heart disease, arthritis or diabetes.
Anyone at risk of serious disease should consult their doctor prior to the travel in order to assess their risk and get recommendations on personal preventive measures.
The chikungunya virus is transmitted to humans by biting Aedes mosquitoes. These are tropical and subtropical mosquitoes found in the warmer parts of the world (especially Asia), the United States and the Mediterranean Basin. The Aedes mosquitoes bite people during the day, making day time protection against mosquito bites extremely important.
Travellers to affected areas are advised to take precautions against mosquito bites including:
- Use of anti-mosquito devices (insecticide-treated bed nets, spray, repellents) and wear long sleeves and trousers
- Mosquito repellent based on a 30% DEET concentration is recommended. Before using repellents, pregnant women and children under the age of 12 years should consult a physician or pharmacist
- For new-born children under three months, repellents are not recommended. Insecticide-treated bed nets and protective clothing should be used instead
Treatment for chikungunya fever involves pain relief and anti-fever medication. There is currently no vaccine.
For more information about chikungunya: