Open Access Open Badges Research article

Perceived morbidity and community burden after a Chikungunya outbreak: the TELECHIK survey, a population-based cohort study

Patrick Gérardin123*, Adrian Fianu1, Denis Malvy4, Corinne Mussard1, Karim Boussaïd1, Olivier Rollot1, Alain Michault5, Bernard-Alex Gaüzere6, Gérard Bréart37 and François Favier1

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Clinical Investigation-Clinical Epidemiology (CIC-EC) of La Réunion (INSERM/CHR/URMLR), Saint Pierre, La Réunion, France

2 Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Centre Hospitalier Régional (CHR), Saint Pierre, La Réunion, France

3 UMR S953, 'Epidemiological Research on Perinatal Health and Women and Children Health' (INSERM/Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris), Paris, France

4 Department of Internal Medicine and Tropical Diseases, Hôpital Saint André, Bordeaux, France

5 Microbiology, CHR, Saint Pierre, La Réunion, France

6 Polyvalent Intensive Care Unit, CHR, Saint Denis, La Réunion, France

7 Public Health Institute, INSERM, Paris, France

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Medicine 2011, 9:5  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-5

Published: 14 January 2011



Persistent disabilities are key manifestations of Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) infection, especially incapacitating polyarthralgia and fatigue. So far, little is known about their impact on health status. The present study aimed at describing the burden of CHIKV prolonged or late-onset symptoms on the self-perceived health of La Réunion islanders.


At 18 months after an outbreak of Chikungunya virus, we implemented the TELECHIK survey; a retrospective cohort study conducted on a random sample of the representative SEROCHIK population-based survey. A total of 1,094 subjects sampled for CHIKV-specific IgG antibodies in the setting of La Réunion island in the Indian Ocean, between August 2006 and October 2006, were interviewed about current symptoms divided into musculoskeletal/rheumatic, fatigue, cerebral, sensorineural, digestive and dermatological categories.


At the time of interview, 43% of seropositive (CHIK+) subjects reported musculoskeletal pain (vs 17% of seronegative (CHIK-) subjects, P < 0.001), 54% fatigue (vs 46%, P = 0.04), 75% cerebral disorders (vs 57%, P < 0.001), 49% sensorineural impairments (vs 37%, P = 0.001), 18% digestive complaints (vs 15%, P = 0.21), and 36% skin involvement (vs 34%, P = 0.20) on average 2 years after infection (range: 15-34 months). After controlling for confounders such as age, gender, body mass index or major comorbidities in different Poisson regression models, 33% of joint pains were attributable to CHIKV, 10% of cerebral disorders and 7.5% of sensorineural impairments, while Chikungunya did not enhance fatigue states, digestive and skin disorders.


On average, 2 years after infection 43% to 75% of infected people reported prolonged or late-onset symptoms highly attributable to CHIKV. These manifestations carry a significant burden in the community in the fields of rheumatology, neurology and sensorineural health.