Chikungunya is a disease caused by the bite of chikungunya-infected mosquitoes, which are present in many tropical countries. Chikunguya can cause severe joint pain and some people can become very sick from the disease.

To date, all people with Chikungyua have been infected while overseas. This is because the two mosquito species which carry the virus are not found in New Zealand. Over 40 different countries host mosquitos which carry Chikunguya, including some in South-East Asia and the Pacific Islands.

There is no vaccine which can protect you against chikungunya. The best prevention is to avoid being bitten by mosquitos when overseas.

If you are concerned about chikungunya, call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see your doctor or practice nurse.

People get chikunguya when they are bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. Chikunguya cannot be spread from person to person, like a cold or the flu.

There are currently no drugs available to prevent chikungunya. The main method of prevention is to minimise your risk of mosquito bites while overseas.

To avoid being bitten while inside it is best to have:

  • screens on doors and windows;
  • insect sprays;
  • electric insect-repellent devices, or mosquito coils;
  • permethrin insecticide on clothes (permethrin can be bought at Travel Medicine Clinics);
  • a mosquito net over your bed at night. You can spray this with permethrin if you wish;
  • air conditioning turned on if you have it. Air conditioning is very effective at keeping mosquitoes out of a room.

To avoid being bitten outdoors:

  • wear a repellent cream or spray containing less than 35% diethyltoluamide (DEET). High concentrations are not more effective and can be harmful. Products containing 20-25% picaridin or 30% lemon eucalyptus oil can also be used.
  • when using sunscreen, apply repellent over the top of sunscreen;
  • wear light-coloured protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants and hats. Clothing can be treated with repellent.
  • use zip-up screens on tents;
  • avoid places where mosquitoes are most active, such as swampy areas;
  • wear hats and shoes (rather than sandals).

You normally find more mosquitos around in the early morning and late afternoon, so it’s important to be particularly careful during these times.

Chikungunya symptoms usually develop about seven to ten days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. Other common symptoms can include:

  • headache
  • muscle pain (myalgia)
  • arthritis
  • eye infections, causing swelling and redness (conjunctivitis)
  • feeling or being sic
  • rash (could look like red bumpy spots on the skin, usually on the body or limbs)

Most people recover and feel better within a week. However, some people may experience joint pain for many months after being infected.

The people most at risk of becoming very sick from chikungunya include newborns bitten by mosquitos during childbirth, older adults (over the age of 65 years old), and people with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

There is no specific treatment for chikungunya. However, you can ease the symptoms of the illness by:

  • drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • getting plenty of bed rest
  • taking pain relief such as paracetamol at recommended doses

If you are taking medication for another condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.

Do not take aspirin, ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until you have sought health advice to rule out dengue fever, which hassymptomssimilar to chikungunya. If you have dengue fever, aspirin or NSAIDS can increase your risk of bleeding.

If you develop chikungunya symptoms after travelling, seek health advice from your GP immediately or call Healthline for free anytime at 0800 611 116.

Chikungunya is a notifiable disease. This means that health professionals or laboratories will inform us when someone has it. Once we are notified about a case of chikungunya, we can investigate which country it came from and give health advice to stop it from spreading.

The National Public Health Service - Northern Region also works to keep mosquitoes from overseas out of the Northern region.


There are specific requirements for notifiable diseases in the Auckland region.

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Last updated 22.9.2023

For health advice call Healthline for free anytime on 0800 611 116
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