Dr. Sheila Fallon-Friedlander
Chikungunya is an arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) endemic to West Africa that causes acute febrile polyarthralgia and arthritis. The name chikungunya is derived from a local language of Tanzania meaning “that which bends up” or “stooped walk” because of the incapacitating arthralgia caused by the disease. Chikungunya in neonates is a very rare entity and a diagnostic challenge. Newborns with this infection generally require admission to pediatric intensive care, and related support, due to severe clinical manifestations, which include respiratory distress, sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis, meningoencephalitis, myocarditis, edema, bullous dermatitis and pericarditis. The case fatality rate for congenital Chikungunya virus infection has been reported to be >30%.
In the acute stage, diagnosis is possible with reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction or serology. Anti-Chikungunya virus IgM antibodies are detectable after an average of 2 days (range = 1-12 days) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and remains positive for several weeks to 3 months.