The Chikungunya Threat: An Ecological and Evolutionary Perspective

Trends Microbiol. 2008 Feb;16(2):80-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2007.12.003. Epub 2008 Jan 10.


Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an emerging mosquito-borne alphavirus. Although primarily African and zoonotic, it is known chiefly for its non-African large urban outbreaks during which it is transmitted by the same vectors as those of Dengue viruses. Unlike Dengue viruses, CHIKV displays a re-emergence pattern that closely depends on long-distance migrations including recent re-immigrations from African (putatively zoonotic) sources. Genus-based differences also emerged when comparing the evolution of Dengue-related (Flaviviruses) and of CHIKV-related (Alphaviruses) arboviruses. In this review, we discuss current information on CHIKV genetics, ecology and human infection. Further investigations on African CHIKV ecology and the differences between Flavivirus and Alphavirus members in adaptive changes and evolutionary constraints are likely to help delineate the potential of further CHIKV (re-)emergence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alphavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Alphavirus Infections / transmission
  • Alphavirus Infections / virology
  • Animals
  • Arbovirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Arbovirus Infections / transmission
  • Arboviruses / genetics
  • Arboviruses / pathogenicity
  • Chikungunya virus / genetics*
  • Chikungunya virus / pathogenicity*
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Geography
  • Humans