Evolving Medical Practice

Chikungunya Virus Infection: An Update on Joint Manifestations and Management

Maria Krutikov and Jessica Manson


The advent of sophisticated diagnostics has enabled the discovery of previously unknown arthropod-borne viruses like Chikungunya. This infection has become increasingly prevalent in the last 10 years across the Indian Ocean and has been brought to media attention by a recent outbreak in the Caribbean. The outbreak has been aided by a drastic rise in air travel, allowing infected individuals to transport the virus to pre¬viously unaffected regions. In addition, a recently documented viral mutation has allowed its transmission by the Aedes albopictus mosquito, therefore facilitating outbreaks in Southern Europe and the USA. The duration and extent of the arthritis seen peri- and post infection has become a topic of academic interest. Although published data are largely observational, there has been a definite increase in original research focusing on this. Symptoms can persist for years, particularly in older patients with pre-existing medical conditions. The etiology is still not fully understood, but viral persistence and immune activation within synovial fluid have been shown in mouse models. There have been no prospective clinical trials of treatment in humans; however, animal trials are in process. The mainstay of treatment remains anti-inflammatories and steroids where necessary. The clinical presentation seems to mimic common rheumatological conditions like rheumatoid arthritis; therefore recent recommendations suggest the use disease-modifying agents as a common practice for the specific syndrome. This review uses recent published data and draws on our own clinical experience to provide an overview of joint complications of Chikungunya infection.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2016;7(4):e0033