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A New Mosquito-Borne Virus Emerges in the Caribbean

The threat of Zika hasn’t even faded from the spotlight yet, but some researchers are already turning their attention to a new mosquito-borne virus. A patient in Haiti has been diagnosed with a serious virus called the Mayaro virus.

This virus has never been seen in Haiti before, but scientists at the University of Florida recently identified a case in an eight-year-old schoolboy. Originally, the virus was thought to be a case of chikungunya, because it was collected shortly after the 2014 chikungunya outbreak.

However, after further research using a genetic identification technique, the scientists found that the child’s blood sample contained Dengue virus and a virus that was later identified as Mayaro.

recent article in the Digital Journal takes a closer look at what we know about the Mayaro virus so far and the best way to handle it.

“The Mayaro virus is in the family Togaviridae and genus Alphavirus. It was first isolated in Trinidad in 1954 but most reported cases have been confined to small isolated outbreaks in the Amazon.

The identification of the mosquito-borne Mayaro virus in a patient in Haiti is of special concern to epidemiologists because this case could be the first evidence of another emerging mosquito-borne virus disease outbreak in the Caribbean region.

Dr. John Lednicky, a UF associate professor in the environmental and global health department of the College of Public Health and Health Professions, says the Mayaro virus causes Dengue-like symptoms similar to chikungunya, with fever, joint and muscle pain, rashes and abdominal pain, with the joint pain seemingly lasting much longer.

Dr. Lednicky says it will be difficult to tell if the new virus is going to become widespread in Haiti because the Zika virus has been difficult to track due to the country’s weak health system.

“We would like to do a lot more but our hands are quite tied,” Dr. Lednicky told the Miami Herald. “We would really like to help in Haiti… and look into which mosquitoes are carrying this virus.”

Another important finding is that the virus found in Haiti is genetically different from the Mayaro viruses recently identified in Brazil. “We don’t know yet if it is unique to Haiti or if it is a recombinant strain from different types of Mayaro viruses,” he said.

Senior study investigator Glenn Morris, M.D., director of the EPI was quoted by “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.”

For the latest news on the Mayaro virus and other pest-related health threats, check back on our blog regularly. We try to keep you informed so you and your family can stay safe and healthy. To tackle mosquito populations in your backyard, Contact Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington DC today.