New Mosquito-Borne Virus Found In Florida

New Mosquito-Borne Virus Found In Florida

For those who want another reason to hate mosquitoes, a not-so-new mosquito-borne virus has begun to make its rounds in the U.S. population. According to USA Today, a case of the Keystone virus has been reported and confirmed in the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The Keystone virus was first found in mosquitoes in the Florida area in 1964. And although Keystone antibodies were found in humans in a 1972 study, there hasn’t been a case reported involving the virus itself.

Until now.

A case involving a 16-year-old boy in North Central Florida in 2016 was recently confirmed by researchers to be the Keystone virus. The boy suffered from a high fever and bad skin rash.

The boy became infected during the height of Zika virus infections. Because of this, his case went under the radar for over a year after the results of the boy’s tests came back negative for Zika and other viruses.

“We couldn’t identify what was going on,” said J. Glenn Morris, the director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute. “We screened this with all the standard approaches and it literally took a year and a half of sort of dogged laboratory work to figure out what this virus was.”

The Keystone virus is part of the orthobunyavirus genus, which has been known to infect cattle. When cattle are infected, they can exhibit brain inflammation although the boy who was infected with the virus in 2016 (and survived) only experienced a rash and fever.

The virus is thought to be spread by the mosquito Aedes Atlanticus, which is known for spreading the West Nile Virus.

To reduce infection risk, the Environmental Protection Agency suggests using insect repellent, staying inside air-conditioned area, and using screens on windows. It’s also recommended by the Florida Department of Health that homeowners drain standing water in garbage cans or pool covers to prevent attracting mosquitoes.

Although no treatment exists for the virus as of yet, symptoms may be treated at a local urgent care center. Only 3% of patients who visit urgent care centers need to be diverted to the emergency room.

“All sorts of viruses are being transmitted by mosquitoes, yet we don’t fully understand the rate of disease transmission,” said Morris. “Additional research into the spread of vector-borne diseases will help us shine a light on the pathogens that are of greatest concern to both human and animal health.”

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