A 16-year-old boy has become the first human infected by a mosquito virus that previously only affected animals, a new study warns.
Just as the summer season of bites gets under way, the University of Florida warns there is another disease to add to our list of concerns.
The Keystone virus, first identified in Tampa in 1964, is spread by Florida’s Aedes atlanticus mosquitoes – a cousin of the mosquito that spreads Zika.
But it took more than a year of tests to pinpoint Keystone as the cause of the boy’s fever and full-body rash.
It took more than a year to diagnose the Florida boy. The Keystone virus, first identified in Tampa in 1964, is spread by Aedes atlanticus mosquitoes – a cousin of the mosquito that spreads Zika
‘We couldn’t identify what was going on,’ Dr Glenn Morris, director of the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, told WUSF.
‘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 boy was at band camp in northern Florida in the summer of 2016 when he came down with a severe fever and rash.
While doctors suspected a bite might be involved, he tested negative for every virus on their battery of tests.
The mystery led to a year of investigations, sending samples to experts in the region.
Dr Morris said that it is a virus that Floridians should now be wary of.
It is part of a group of viruses that cause encephalitis, inflammation of the brain which can lead to seizures and hallucination.
However, he said that he suspects there may have been many other cases in humans, just that they were left undiagnosed.
The discovery, announced today, could answer many unresolved cases of mysterious bites and reactions among people particularly in northern Florida, but also in the south.
‘There is a reasonable chance that there is a number of cases out there,’ Dr Morris told Fox 13.