Chikungunya is a mosquito-transmitted disease that’s been rearing its head throughout Central and South America. People infected with the virus develop a fever and extreme joint pain. There’s no cure, and sometimes the joint pain lasts for months or even years.
But even though it’s a painful and debilitating disease, chikungunya has a dreadfully catchy name (sounding like “chicken-goon-ya”). Maybe that’s why songs about chikungunya are taking YouTube by storm.
For example, check out this video, with a catchy reggaeton number from Jkar, a young musician in Colombia.
“Dime si te a picado el chikungunya, que se a vuelto una locura,“ sings Jkar. “Es una picadura que no puedes contener.“ This roughly translates to: “Tell me if you’ve been bitten by chikungunya, which has turned into a crazy mess that you can’t contain.”
This isn’t the first time that musicians have turned to disease for inspiration. Tuberculosis in particular has a following; “T.B. Blues,” allegedly written and recorded by Lead Belly in 1944, has been covered by several artists, including country singers Jimmie Rodgers and Merle Haggard.
More recently, Ebola inspired musicians to pick up their pens and write songs, with lyrics about how to avoid the virus.
The chikungunya songs come with no advice and lots of humor, perhaps because most people make a full recovery.
There’s also a parody of “Danza Kuduro,” a 2010 hit from Don Omar of Puerto Rico. (That’s the video at the top of the page.)
Ke lo ke, from the Dominican Republic, plays multiple characters in this video. The first describes his symptoms, including body pain, a crazy fever, itchy, dry skin and a red bite. Every so often, another character responds, “Es la chikungunya!” or, “It’s chikungunya!”