Are you turning up the heat this winter by travelling south? Donít let a small bite ruin your vacation.

Canadians heading south must protect themselves from mosquito bites that can spread diseases that cause illness, like chikungunya.

What is chikungunya?

Chikungunya is a disease spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It occurs mostly in the Caribbean and in South America.

It typically causes fever combined with arthritis-like pain in the joints. Most people recover after a few days, though in some cases, joint pain may persist for weeks or months.

There is no vaccine or medication to protect against chikungunya. Therefore, it is mportant to protect yourself from mosquito bites:
  • Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved, shirts and pants, closed-toe shoes and a hat.
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin.
  • If possible, stay in a well-screened or completely enclosed air-conditioned room; otherwise, sleep under a bed net, preferably treated with insecticide.

What is my risk?

Travellers are at risk when visiting areas where chikungunya occurs and in areas being affected by a chikungunya outbreak.

The risk is higher during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset. Mosquitoes that can transmit chikungunya bite even in shady areas, when it is overcast, or if you are indoors.

How is it transmitted?

  • Chikungunya is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito carrying the chikungunya virus, mainly the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus species.
  • Mosquitoes that carry chikungunya virus bite mainly during the daytime.

What are the symptoms?

  • Symptoms can take up to 12 days to appear, but usually begin within 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
  • They generally include fever and joint pain. Other symptoms can include fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and rash.
  • Most people recover after a few days, though in some cases joint pain may persist for weeks or months. Gastrointestinal, eye, neurological and heart complications have sometimes been reported.
  • Complications are rare but can be more common in infants, older travellers and people with chronic medical conditions (for example, diabetes, hypertension).

Can chikungunya be treated?

There is no specific treatment for chikungunya. Medication can be provided to relieve symptoms.

Where is chikungunya a concern?

Chikungunya occurs in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent.
A map of the areas where chikungunya occurs is available on the World Health Organizationís (WHO) website.


Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset.Those that may be at higher risk of complications include infants, older travellers and people with chronic medical conditions.
  • If you develop symptoms similar to chikungunya when you are travelling or after you return, see a health care provider and tell them where you have been travelling or living.