19 October 2012
Chikungunya virus infection in Papua New Guinea
On 3 October 2012, the health authorities of Papua New Guinea (PNG) have reported confirmed cases of chikungunya virus (CHIKV) infection in the province of Sandaun (West Sepik), north-western region of the country, bordering with Indonesia. The first cases were reported in June 2012 and have corresponded with an increase in heavy rains in the region .
Since the beginning of the outbreak, 633 suspected cases have been reported of which 14 have been laboratory-confirmed .
These are the first cases to be reported in Papua New Guinea, however the vector, Aedes albopictus has been present in the country since 2005 .
The WHO in Papua New Guinea is working with the National Department of Health in the implementation of control measures and providing public information.
CHIKV is a viral infection of humans and non-human primates transmitted by Aedes spp. mosquitoes. It is endemic in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the islands of the Indian Ocean, and South and South East Asia. CHIKV does not occur in the UK but cases have been reported in travellers returning from endemic areas, particularly in the Indian subcontinent .
In symptomatic illness there is the sudden onset of fever, headache, myalgia and arthralgia. After 2 to 3 days a generalised maculopapular rash can develop. Most cases recover in 3 to 5 days, however, 5-10 percent of cases can have chronic joint pain, arthritis and fatigue. Treatment is supportive.
Advice for travellers
There is no vaccine to prevent CHIKV. Travellers to endemic areas can reduce their risk of infection by practising insect bite avoidance measures. Aedes spp. mosquitoes responsible for transmitting CHIKV, are most active during daylight hours. Particular vigilance with bite avoidance should be taken around dawn and dusk.
A map of areas of risk for CHIKV is available from the World Health Organization.
1. Insitute de Veille Sanitaire. Bulletin Hebdomadaire International No. 368. 3-9 octobre, 2012. In French. [Accessed 19 October 2012]. Available at: http://www.invs.sante.fr/content/download/47413/206694/versio
2. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Communicable Disease threats Report, 7-13 October 2012, 12. [Accessed 19 October 2012]. Available at: http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications/Publications/ECDC
3. Health Protection Agency. Chikungunya Epidemological data. Laboratory-confirmed cases of chikungunya by region of travel, England, Wales and Northern Ireland: 2009 – 2010. [Accessed 19 October 2012]. Available at: