O’nyong-nyong Fever

O’nyong-nyong fever is a viral disease caused by the virus of the same name. The disease is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa and is mainly transmitted by mosquitoes. Fatal forms are not known so far, so that the prognosis for the patients is relatively favorable.

O’nyong-nyong Fever

What is O’nyong-nyong fever?

In infectious diseases, microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria or fungi enter an organism in order to colonize and multiply. Mosquitoes are known to be carriers of various viral infections. One such infection is the O’nyong-nyong virus, which is prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. See aviationopedia for Kuru Explanations.

The disease has been reported in Kenya and Malawi as well as Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda. The same applies to black African areas such as Senegal and the Central African Republic. Infected people suffer from what is known as O’nyong-nyong fever after the sting. This fever is relatively common in sub-Saharan Africa.

Around 80 percent of the population is estimated to be infected with the viral disease. The fever was first described as part of a momentous epidemic that made headlines in Uganda in the early 1960s. Around two million people were affected by the disease at the time. Literally translated, “O’Nyong-nyong” means “joint breaking”. There is probably an extra-human reservoir for the virus.


The cause of O’nyong-nyong fever is the O’nyong-nyong virus. This virus infection is a form of the RNA virus that belongs to the group of togaviruses. Human cells are used by RNA viruses as host cells. The affected cells do not have a mechanism for repairing ribonucleic acid.

For this reason, synthesis errors associated with a high mutation rate occur in RNA viruses. As RNA viruses multiply, they change every 10,000th base. Virus mutants are created that help the virus play hide-and-seek with the human immune system.

RNA viruses such as the O’nyong-nyong virus are mainly transmitted to humans via the bite of certain mosquitoes. These mosquito species include Anopheles funestus and Anopheles gambiae. Both species are twilight-active mosquitoes that only occur in the vicinity of stagnant water. The O’nyong-nyong virus appears to be closely related to the Chikungunya virus, which also causes fever.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

After a certain incubation period, patients with O’nyong-nyong virus suffer from fever, which is accompanied by various accompanying symptoms. The incubation period after a mosquito bite is usually a little over a week. Those affected show no symptoms this week.

Only then does the chills set in, which is associated with signs of infection such as headaches. The fever is accompanied by swelling of the lymph nodes, which indicate immune system activity. Fever and virus got their names because of the joint pain that typically occurs.

In addition, during the course of the febrile illness, there are myalgias and a sharp decrease in leukocytes. Inflammation in the oral mucosa is a common symptom of the virus. Lymphocytes proliferate until lymphocytosis occurs.

The joint pain associated with the viral disease is usually symmetrical and lasts for several weeks. Symptoms such as inflammation of the mucous membranes and rashes subside after around two weeks. In individual cases, the disease can take a ‘silent’ course and in this case does not result in any feeling of illness.

Diagnosis & course of disease

If there are symptoms, the doctor will diagnose O’nyong-nyong fever based on a typical travel history. The suspected diagnosis is secured by detecting antibodies in the blood. This proof is necessary because the clinical symptoms can be similar to other viral diseases.

With the detection of antibodies, the doctor carries out a differential diagnostic differentiation from similar viruses. The prognosis for patients with O’nyong-nyong fever is relatively favorable. Fatal forms are not known. The disease usually clears up completely within weeks and results in long-lasting immunity.

When should you go to the doctor?

O’nyong-nyong fever occurs only in people who live or stay in South Africa for some time. If health irregularities occur in the region after a mosquito bite, these should be observed. In most cases, no doctor is needed, as the consequences of the insect bite completely resolve within a short time and no complications arise. The recovery process can be promoted by cooling the affected area and using an appropriate ointment to heal an insect bite. If there are no symptoms, there is no need to see a doctor.

If the state of health deteriorates a few days after the insect bite, this should be clarified by a doctor. A doctor is required if the fever, chills and pain persist. Serious illnesses must be ruled out as a priority, since no further treatment steps are often initiated in the case of O’nyong-nyong fever. Swelling, pain in the joints and restricted mobility should be presented to a doctor.

A feeling of illness, anxiety or inner restlessness can occur. If the symptoms increase in intensity, a doctor should be consulted. Inflammation or irregularities in the mucous membranes indicate a disease that requires treatment and medical attention. Changes in the complexion, dizziness or a general feeling of being unwell should be discussed with a doctor.

Treatment & Therapy

No causal therapy is available for patients with O’nyong-nyong fever. Unlike other viral diseases, travelers cannot be vaccinated against the virus before going to sub-Saharan Africa. Since no causal therapy is available, the treatment of the disease is exclusively symptomatic.

Patients can be given painkillers, for example, to treat the severe joint pain. Painkillers should not be given for too long, however, as there is a risk of dependency. Antipyretics are not mandatory and are only given when the fever reaches a dangerous level. In principle, patients can support their body in fighting the virus.

Sufficient fluid intake is one of the supportive measures. Hot tea in particular can relieve symptoms in the long run. Although there is no vaccination against O’Nyong-nyong fever, some preventive measures exist. Ideally, those who follow these preventive steps before and during stays in sub-Saharan Africa will not get the fever.

Outlook & Forecast

Anyone who becomes infected with O’nyong-nyong fever in the tropics can count on a good prognosis for the outcome of the infection. According to the current state of knowledge, the fever, which is mainly widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, is never fatal. Many people in sub-Saharan Africa have been infected with O’nyong-nyong fever from a mosquito. The virus of the same name is counted among the togaviruses.

Sometimes O’nyong-nyong virus infection is silent and goes unnoticed. In other cases, it leads to body aches, rashes, inflamed mucous membranes and chills. These symptoms disappear after a few weeks. So that O’nyong-nyong fever cannot be confused with other diseases with similar symptoms, it makes sense to use differential diagnostics to differentiate it.

The outlook is also good because those affected are immunized for life after recovering from the symptoms of O’nyong-nyong fever. The symptoms are usually so mild that those affected do not need to see a doctor. In the case of persistent bouts of fever with pain and chills, however, a doctor’s visit is advisable. It could also be a medical condition that requires treatment, such as malaria or another tropical fever.

There is currently no preventive vaccination available against O’nyong-nyong fever. The disease can only be treated symptomatically. To prevent mosquito bites that transmit O’nyong-nyong fever, wearing clothing that covers the body is the most sensible measure.


In the context of O’Nyong-nyong fever, preventive measures are limited to steps aimed at preventing the mosquito bite that transmits the infection. These steps include dressing with long garments. Shorts and T-shirts invite the transmitting mosquitoes to bite. Mosquito nets also protect against mosquito bites.

In addition, sprays for protection against insect bites are generally available. Since the infected mosquito species are usually only active at dusk and in the vicinity of standing water, staying near water should be avoided at dusk. Although these preventive measures do not promise 100% prevention, they at least reduce the risk of infection with the virus.


In O’nyong-nyong fever, direct follow-up measures are severely limited in most cases. For this reason, the affected person should ideally consult a doctor at an early stage in order to prevent the occurrence of other symptoms or complications. The sooner a doctor is consulted, the better the further course of the disease.

Since O’nyong-nyong fever is a highly contagious disease, the person affected should avoid contact with other people as far as possible in order not to infect them as well. It also cannot come to an independent healing, so that the focus of this disease is the early diagnosis. Most patients are dependent on taking various medications.

It is always important to ensure that the dosage is correct and that it is taken regularly in order to alleviate the symptoms. In the event of severe side effects or if you are unsure about taking the medication, you should always consult a doctor first. Likewise, patients should be kept in bed rest, although they are often dependent on the help and care of their own families in their everyday lives. If O’nyong-nyong fever is recognized and treated in good time, the life expectancy of the affected person is usually not reduced.

You can do that yourself

O’nyong-nyong fever is an infectious disease caused by viruses. They are transmitted by mosquitoes, which are mainly native to sub-Saharan Africa.

Like most viral diseases, there is only one way to treat the individual symptoms of O’nyong-nyong fever. Cold calf wraps, for example, are recommended for chills with a high fever. Swellings should also be cooled. In the case of severe joint problems, anti-inflammatory painkillers, which are available over the counter in pharmacies, can help. If the disease is severe, a doctor who is familiar with tropical diseases should be consulted. During the illness, it is advisable for patients to take it easy or even go to bed rest.

In general, O’nyong-nyong fever is cured in a few weeks. But until then, patients should strengthen their body’s immune system to help them fight the virus. Toxic substances such as alcohol or nicotine should be avoided. The patient should also ensure a healthy diet that contains plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, but at the same time contains sufficient calories. It is also important to drink a lot, mainly water, hot tea or thin soups. Depending on the outside temperature, you should drink two to three liters of liquid a day.