Chikungunya, dengue and zika are viruses spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. The Aaedes species of mosquito that spread these viruses primarily bite during daytime hours. Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted.
Most people infected with dengue and zika do not have symptoms (75-80%), and about 3-28% of people infected with chikungunya do not have symptoms. Symptoms that do occur are usually mild for these diseases, including fever, joint pain, rash, red eyes and muscle aches. Most people with symptoms recover within 1-2 weeks.
Chikungunya can cause recurrent joint pain in about 20% of people.
Dengue can cause more severe symptoms including persistent vomiting, severe abdominal pain, bleeding from the gums, difficulty breathing, and signs of shock which can potentially be fatal. This is known as dengue hemorrhagic fever and is more common if a person gets infected with dengue a second time.
Zika can rarely cause neurological complicationssuch as Guillain-Barré syndrome (about 1 in 5,000 cases). Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly in the fetus (an abnormally small brain and head), as well as miscarriage, stillbirth, and other birth defects.
How can I prevent Chikungunya, Dengue and Zika?
The best way to prevent chikungunya, dengue and zika is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes:
- Wear light-coloured long sleeves and pants
- Apply insect repellent with 30% DEET or 20% Icaridin onto exposed areas of skin
- Avoid conceiving for 3 months (males) 2 months (females) after travelling to a destination where Zika is a risk. Pregnant women should avoid nonessential travel to areas where Zika is a risk.