In a recent cohort study published in the journal, Neurology, researchers have shown that the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya may lead to a severe brain infection and even death in infants and people over 65. The study involved a cohort of patients infected with chickungunya virus during the 2005-2006 outbreak on Reunion Island, off the coast of Madagascar. Researchers looked at whether people with neurological symptoms at disease onset were still affected three years later. They found the encephalitis incidence rate in both extremes of age categories were far superior to those of accumulated causes of encephalitis in the United States. Also, the fatality rate of chickungunya virus associated encephalitis was 16.6% and the proportion of children discharged with persistent disabilities estimated between 30% and 45%.
According to the US CDC, the most common symptoms of chikungunya virus are fever and joint pain that most people resolve in a week. There is no vaccine to prevent chikungunya viral infection or medicine to treat it. People who are living in or travelling to areas where the virus is prevalent, are cautioned to take preventive measures by wearing mosquito repellent and long-sleeves and pants if possible.