What is the chikungunya virus? Everything you need to know

Jan 22, 2015 at 12:20 p.m. ET
Image: WENN.com

Lindsay Lohan went to paradise over the holidays, but the virus she picked up during her stay in Bora Bora is anything but a walk on the beach.

The Mean Girls star, who was reportedly hospitalized in London, posted a photo on Instagram revealing she picked up the incredibly rare virus chikungunya while relaxing with friends.

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Chika what? Yeah, we thought the same thing.

What is chikungunya?

According to the World Health Organization, chikungunya is an incurable virus transmitted through infected female mosquitoes. The virus typically starts with an abrupt fever and joint pain, along with muscle pain, headache, nausea and fatigue.

It sounds pretty painful — and it is. Chikungunya is derived from the Kimakonde language meaning "to become contorted," thanks to the debilitating joint pain the virus brings with it.

The symptoms typically show up within one to four days and the symptoms can last anywhere from two to 12 days, though the WHO says those with the virus can take months to fully recover.

The good news? It's typically not fatal, just seriously painful.

The bad news? There's no vaccine for chikungunya — and it's spreading. The virus was first documented in a 1952 outbreak in southern Tanzania, though it's been reported in over 40 countries in Asia and Europe. It was first reported in the Americas — specifically, in the Caribbean island of St. Martin — in 2013 and 106 cases were just confirmed in Costa Rica, according to The Tico Times.

Will the virus become a problem in the United States? Maybe, maybe not. However, it's always a good idea to do what you can to protect yourself, especially if you're traveling to an infected area, like Bora Bora. Always wear repellents, long sleeves and pants while near areas with high concentrations of mosquitoes.

As far as Lohan goes, it luckily sounds like she's over the most painful part of the virus, out of the hospital and back to life in her newly-adopted home base of London.

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