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Chikungunya Virus Shows Similar Symptoms To Rheumatoid Arthritis, May Cause Misdiagnosis


A new study has found that Chikungunya virus and rheumatoid arthritis present similar symptoms and even test results, emphasizing the importance of accurate diagnosis.

Chikungunya is transmitted by mosquitoes and it’s typically diagnosed in Central and South America, India, the Caribbean and Africa. Symptoms include fever and a rash, as well as severe joint pain that can last for weeks or up to one year. While mosquito-borne diseases are common in humid, equatorial areas, Chikungunya has made its way through Florida in recent years. In fact, the FDA may approve an experiment to release millions of genetically modified mosquitoes in Florida to combat dengue and Chikungunya in the United States.

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis often have the same symptoms, which may result in an inaccurate diagnosis and treatment, according to the Voice Chronicle.

The researchers recommend doctors consider the travel and medical history of patients to avoid a misdiagnosis, as patients who have Chikungunya may be treated with medication for rheumatoid arthritis, which can worsen the condition, according to Daily Science Journal.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Wayne Yokoyama, MD” author_title=”Leady study author”]

Recent travel to the Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, India or other areas where the virus is prevalent should raise suspicions of Chikungunya infection. In addition, the disease typically starts with high fever and abrupt onset of severe pain in the joints, which are not usually seen with rheumatoid arthritis.


With this new information about Chikungunya virus, health officials are concerned that the disease could become a diagnostic challenge over the new few years as the virus continues to gain ground in the United States. As blood samples are similar for rheumatoid arthritis and Chikungunya virus, doctors hope immune-suppression drugs that treat arthritis may help, according to Diabetes Insider.

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