Open Access Open Badges Research article

Emergence of chikungunya seropositivity in healthy Malaysian adults residing in outbreak-free locations: Chikungunya seroprevalence results from the Malaysian Cohort

Nor Azila Muhammad Azami1, Sharifah Azura Salleh2, Shamsul Azhar Shah3, Hui-min Neoh1, Zulhabri Othman14, Syed Zulkifli Syed Zakaria14 and Rahman Jamal14*

Author affiliations

1 UKM Medical Molecular Biology Institute, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2 Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre (UKMMC), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

3 Department of Community Health, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre (UKMMC), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

4 The Malaysian Cohort, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Citation and License

BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:67  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-67

Published: 5 February 2013



In 1998, Malaysia experienced its first chikungunya virus (CHIKV) outbreak in the suburban areas followed by another two in 2006 (rural areas) and 2008 (urban areas), respectively. Nevertheless, there is still a lack of documented data regarding the magnitude of CHIKV exposure in the Malaysian population. The aim of this study was to determine the extent of chikungunya virus infection in healthy Malaysian adults residing in outbreak-free locations.


A cross sectional study of chikungunya (CHIK) seroprevalence was carried out in 2009 amongst The Malaysian Cohort participants living in four states (Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan). A total of 945 participants were randomly identified for the study. Potential risk factors for CHIK infection were determined via questionnaires, and IgG antibodies against CHIK were detected by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Logistic regression identified risk factors associated with CHIK seropositivity, while geographical information system was used for visual and spatial analysis.


From the 945 serum samples tested, 5.9% was positive for CHIK IgG. Being male, Malay, rural occupancy and Negeri Sembilan residency were identified as univariate predictors for CHIK seropositivity, while multivariate analysis identified being male and rural occupancy as risk factors.


This study provided evidence that CHIK is slowly emerging in Malaysia. Although the current baseline seroprevalence is low in this country, increasing number of CHIK cases reported to the Malaysia Ministry of Health imply the possibility of CHIK virus becoming endemic in Malaysia.

Adult; Malaysia/Epidemiology; Chikungunya virus; Seroprevalence study; Rural