Tropical virus symptoms can mimic rheumatoid arthritis, study says

February 21, 2015
Tropical virus symptoms can mimic rheumatoid arthritis: study
Similarities may make diagnosis of chikungunya more difficult, researchers say.

(HealthDay)—The mosquito-borne chikungunya virus causes joint pain and swelling similar to rheumatoid arthritis, which can make diagnosis difficult, a new study says.

Chikungunya has spread in parts of the Caribbean and Central and South America. Though still rare, the virus is increasingly being seen in the United States, according to the researchers.

Adding to the potential confusion in making a diagnosis, the researchers also found that blood tests of patients with chikungunya can have similar results to people with .
In many people, chikungunya infection causes fever, rash, and in the hands, feet, knees, neck and elbows. The fever and rash typically ease in seven to 10 days. But joint pain lasts for 12 to 15 months in up to 60 percent of patients. In some patients, joint pain lasts for up to three years, according to the researchers.

The study included 10 St. Louis-area residents who were infected with the during a 2014 trip to Haiti. They were evaluated seven to 10 weeks after symptoms began and compared with people who had rheumatoid arthritis.

Eight of these patients developed persistent arthritis, according to the researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

"All eight patients with chikungunya-related arthritis met the American College of Rheumatology's criteria for a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis," said the study's lead author, Dr. Jonathan Miner, in a university news release.

The study was published recently in Arthritis and Rheumatology.

The chikungunya virus was first identified 60 years ago in Africa and has since spread to other parts of the world. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with chikungunya infection in 2014 after traveling to other countries, mostly the Caribbean.

That same year, the CDC reported 11 cases of chikungunya among people living in Florida who had not traveled outside of the country, suggesting that mosquitoes in the state were spreading the virus.

The findings about the similarities between patients with chikungunya infection and rheumatoid arthritis show the need for doctors to get detailed travel and medical histories from patients, the researchers noted.

"For now, good travel histories of are among the best diagnostic tools for physicians," study senior author Dr. Wayne Yokoyama, a professor of medicine at the university, said in the news release.

"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," he explained.

Explore further: Shared symptoms of Chikungunya virus, rheumatoid arthritis may cloud diagnosis

More information: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about chikungunya.

Related Stories

Shared symptoms of Chikungunya virus, rheumatoid arthritis may cloud diagnosis

January 30, 2015
A mosquito-borne virus that has spread to the Caribbean and Central and South America and has caused isolated infections in Florida often causes joint pain and swelling similar to that seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.  

Mosquito-borne chikungunya virus still a concern for American travelers, CDC says

November 6, 2014
(HealthDay)—Americans traveling to the Caribbean and Central and South America this winter need to be aware that an outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease chikungunya continues to spread in those areas, U.S. federal health ...

Five things you need to know about the Chikungunya virus

January 29, 2015
It's no secret that mosquitos are a huge headache for residents in South Florida. But what appears to be a routine mosquito bite could wind up being something much worse.

US gets first local case of mosquito-borne chikungunya

July 17, 2014
A Florida man who has not recently traveled outside the country is the first person in the United States to get the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus locally, officials said Thursday.

Chikungunya fever identified in the United States

September 23, 2014
(HealthDay)—Chikungunya fever is being seen in travelers returning to the United States from affected regions and should be considered as a diagnosis for febrile travelers, according to an ideas and opinions piece published ...

Caribbean blues: Mosquito virus is sickening more travelers

February 6, 2015
Thousands of travelers to the Caribbean and nearby regions are coming home with an unwanted souvenir: a mosquito-borne virus that recently settled there.

Recommended for you

Rhesus macaque model offers route to study Zika brain pathology

June 21, 2018
Rhesus macaque monkeys infected in utero with Zika virus develop similar brain pathology to human infants, according to a report by researchers at the California National Primate Research Center and School of Veterinary Medicine ...

Breakthrough treatment for crippling jaw disease created

June 20, 2018
A first-ever tissue implant to safely treat a common jaw defect, known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction, has been successfully tested by UCI-led researchers in a large animal model, according to new findings.

Cell-free DNA profiling informative way to monitor urinary tract infections

June 20, 2018
Using shotgun DNA sequencing, Cornell University researchers have demonstrated a new method for monitoring urinary tract infections (UTIs) that surpasses traditional methods in providing valuable information about the dynamics ...

New flu vaccine only a little better than traditional shot

June 20, 2018
A newer kind of flu vaccine only worked a little bit better in seniors this past winter than traditional shots, the government reported Wednesday.

Blood signature could improve early tuberculosis diagnosis

June 19, 2018
A gene signature in the bloodstream could reveal whether someone is going to develop active tuberculosis (TB) disease months before symptoms begin. Such a signature has now been developed by a team led by the Francis Crick ...

Scientists uncover a factor important for Zika virus host species restriction

June 19, 2018
Princeton University researchers Qiang Ding, Alexander Ploss, and colleagues have identified one of the mechanisms by which Zika virus (ZIKV) circumvents immune control to replicate in human cells. The paper detailing this ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.