While there is an association between initial CHIKV infection and acute disease, a causal relationship with development of chronic arthralgia has not been established at this time. Potential causes of chronic CHIKV-induced arthritis have been postulated, including viral persistence, induction of autoimmune disease, and exacerbation of pre-existing joint disease. While there are numerous reports of chronic CHIKV-associated arthralgia and/or arthritis, there is currently no evidence of a definitive link between initial infection and development of chronic disease. Additional, prospective clinical research on CHIKV-associated disease is necessary to further determine the potential role of virus and development of chronic joint disease.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-borne alphavirus that circulates predominantly in tropical and subtropical regions, potentially affecting over 1 billion people. Recently, an outbreak began in the western hemisphere and has resulted in over 1.8 million reported suspected cases. Infection often results in severe fever, rash and debilitating polyarthralgia lasting weeks to months. Additionally, the current literature reports that CHIKV can result in a severe chronic arthralgia and/or arthritis that can last months to years following the initial infection.
The purpose of this review is to evaluate the literature and summarize the current state of knowledge regarding CHIKV-associated disease, including clinical presentation, diagnosis, risk factors for development of severe disease, treatment, and pathogenesis in human patients. Additionally, recommendations are presented regarding avenues for clinical research to help further elucidate the pathogenesis of joint disease associated with CHIKV infection.