Background: Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is responsible for acute febrile polyarthralgia and, in a proportion of cases, severe complications including chronic arthritis. CHIKV has spread recently in East Africa, South-West Indian Ocean, South-Asia and autochthonous cases have been reported in Europe. Although almost all patients are outpatients, medical investigations mainly focused on hospitalised patients.
Methodology/principal findings: Here, we detail clinico-biological characteristics of Chikungunya (CHIK) outpatients in Reunion Island (2006). 76 outpatients with febrile arthralgia diagnosed within less than 48 hours were included by general practitioners during the CuraChik clinical trial. CHIK was confirmed in 54 patients and excluded in 22. A detailed clinical and biological follow-up was organised, that included analysis of viral intrahost diversity and telephone survey until day 300. The evolution of acute CHIK included 2 stages: the 'viral stage' (day 1-day 4) was associated with rapid decrease of viraemia and improvement of clinical presentation; the 'convalescent stage' (day 5-day 14) was associated with no detectable viraemia but a slower clinical improvement. Women and elderly had a significantly higher number of arthralgia at inclusion and at day 300. Based on the study clinico-biological dataset, scores for CHIK diagnosis in patients with recent febrile acute polyarthralgia were elaborated using arthralgia on hands and wrists, a minor or absent myalgia and the presence of lymphopenia (<1G/L) as major orientation criteria. Finally, we observed that CHIKV intra-host genetic diversity increased over time and that a higher viral amino-acid complexity at the acute stage was associated with increased number of arthralgia and intensity of sequelae at day 300.
Conclusions/significance: This study provided a detailed picture of clinico-biological CHIK evolution at the acute phase of the disease, allowed the elaboration of scores to assist CHIK diagnosis and investigated for the first time the impact of viral intra-host genetic diversity on the disease course.