What is Chikungunya, what symptoms and how to prevent the disease – Ceará

Just at the beginning of this year, Fortaleza was already hit by an influenza epidemic, an increase in cases of Covid-19, due to a new variant, an increase in cases of the popularly known “fly virus” and is now in state of alert due to the increase in Chikungunya cases.

in numbers, there are 30% more confirmed cases than at the same time last year.The epidemiological bulletin, of the 8th epidemiological week, published by the Municipal Department of Health of Fortaleza (SMS), shows that in the capital of Ceará there are already 26 positive diagnoses of chikungunya between the months of January and February. During the same period as the previous year, there were only 20 cases.

Aedes aegypti resting on the skin of a human

The scenario triggered an alert in the health record of the municipality, which considers this moment as the “tip of the iceberg”, because they consider that there are many more cases of the disease, because people are taking time to seek a medical diagnosis.

When we saw this scenario, [percebemos que é] what we call the ‘tip of the iceberg’ because you don’t see the biggest block of infected people, but you know that number is a strong indicator

Nelio Morais

coordinator of the Health Surveillance Coordination of Fortaleza

In Fortaleza, at least three districts, Luciano Cavalcante, Jardim das Oliveiras and City of Employees, already have outbreaks of the disease confirmed by SMS. In this spirit, the Northeast Journal separated some important information about arboviruses.


It is an infectious disease caused by the chikungunya virus, which is transmitted by Aedes aegypti– mosquito that transmits dengue fever and zika – in urban areas, but also Aedes albopictus – mosquito responsible for yellow fever – in areas of extensive vegetation. The information comes from the Ministry of Health.


With three neighborhoods in the making, all located in the Regional VI area, experts are already beginning to analyze the reason for this new peak in cases. The last time Fortaleza caused concern from health authorities, due to neighborhoods affected by an epidemic of chikungunya, was in 2017.

The epidemiologist and professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Federal University of Ceará (UFC), Luciano Pamplona, ​​believes that this increase in cases, in the first two months of the year, is linked to the anticipation of the period of heaviest rains.

“Of course, the fact that it started to rain earlier this year could have directly influenced the reproduction of vectors and the increase in the transmission of cases”, comments the epidemiologist. However, he also believes that people away from home longer may be one of the causes.

“Another interesting aspect is that people, until last year, were at home longer because of the confinement. So, whether we liked it or not, people took more care of the domestic environment, preventing the proliferation of the mosquito,” he points out.

As for the reasons that led to the explosion of cases in Region VI, the coordinator of the Health Surveillance Coordination of Fortaleza, Nélio Morais, believes that the reason is linked to previous years.

“Previously [no surto de 2017] Region VI was the least affected and has the largest population in Fortaleza, along with Region V. What does this scenario bring us now? As chikungunya can only be infected once, unlike dengue fever which has four types, today the population most susceptible to chikungunya in Fortaleza is regional VI”, emphasizes Nélio Morais.


The disease caused by Aedes aegypti in urban areas, it has symptoms that can be confused with its two sister diseases – dengue fever and zika. However, in its acute phase, it can even affect the locomotion of the infected person.

The main symptoms of the disease are:

  • Sudden fever, from 38º.5ºC;
  • Intense joint pain, accompanied by swelling of the joints, which makes it difficult to perform routine activities, such as walking, bathing, cooking, etc. ;
  • Red spots on the body, with intense itching;

Symptoms usually appear between 2 to 10 days after the mosquito biteand remain between 7 and 30 days in infected people. The acute phase of the disease lasts the first 14 days of infection.. However, its consequences can last for years.


Chikungunya, like other infectious diseases, has a risk group, where worsening of symptoms and sequelae may occur. This group is made up of people over the age of 65 and children under the age of 2.

“In a part of people, a large part, it can become chronic and cause chronic pain for several years. We don’t know if for the rest of our lives, but we’ve known for at least six or seven years,” said epidemiologist Luciano Pamplona.

Patients with comorbidities may also be highlighted, such as:

  • Hypertension;
  • Diabetes;
  • Autoimmune diseases;
  • and previous joint injuries.


As the disease has a high chance of getting worse, it is recommended to first consult a doctor for an official diagnosis of Chikungunya.

The treatment of the disease, both for its acute and chronic phases, can be done through the use of analgesics, antipyretics or corticosteroids prescribed by doctors. Additionally, rest is recommended for the first 10 days of illness to avoid complications and worsening of symptoms.

It is also recommended to stay hydrated, by ingesting plenty of fluids such as mineral and coconut water, juices and teas.


As there is not yet a vaccine to immunize against chikungunya, the best means of prevention is to act against its infectious agent, Aedes aegypti.

  1. Make, at least once a week, a home inspection to eliminate any mosquito breeding sites;
  2. Make sure the water tank is sealed and the gutters do not accumulate water;
  3. Proper cleaning of water storage tanks and refrigerator trays;
  4. Be careful not to allow water to pool under plant pots;
  5. Proper cleaning of drains and toilets, especially in unused places;
  6. Do not leave objects that accumulate water around the house, such as: tires, bottles, yogurt pots, plastic bags and others;
It is essential that people understand that 90% of the breeding sites of the disease-causing mosquito are in and around homes. So if people take care of their house we can reduce the reproduction of this vector and its diseases

Luciano Pamplona


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