A mosquito-borne illness has been detected for the first time in the Caribbean nation, according to researchers from the University of Florida. Named the Mayaro virus, it is a virus related to the chikungunya virus, and as of now, experts cannot say if this would eventually turn into an outbreak.
An eight-year-old boy was diagnosed with the virus based on the result of his blood sample, which was taken in January 2015. His symptoms include abdominal pain, fever but no rash and conjunctivitis.
The Mayaro virus was initially isolated in Trinidad in 1954. There have been small outbreaks but they have been limited in the Amazon.
As stated in their study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases on Aug. 26, the Mayaro fever exhibits the same symptoms as chikungunya. They cite fever, joint pain, muscle pain and rashes as well as abdominal pain and joint pain.
The boy’s plasma samples also reveal that the patient had dengue virus aside from the Mayaro virus. According to lead author John Lednicky, associate professor in the environmental and global health department at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions, not much is known about the Mayaro virus but they know that it is genetically different from the mosquito-borne viruses that recently affected Brazil. Moreover, they do not know if this is only confined in Haiti.
“While current attention has been focused on the Zika virus, the finding of yet another mosquito-borne virus which may be starting to circulate in the Caribbean is of concern,” says Glenn Morris, director of the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute. “Hopefully, we will not see the same massive epidemics that we saw with chikungunya, dengue and now Zika. However, these findings underscore the fact that there are additional viruses ‘waiting in the wings’ that may pose threats in the future, and for which we need to be watching out for.”