Another deadly virus called the Keystone virus that could cause serious brain infection and is transmitted by mosquito bites has been found for the first time to be infecting humans. Until now the virus was noted to infect only animals.
The keystone virus was first detected in 1964 and was found in animal populations across Texas to the Chesapeake Bay. In their latest finding, researchers from the University of Florida have confirmed that the virus has infected a 16 year old boy in Florida. The index case of the boy provided with a history of attending a band camp in northern Florida in the summer of 2016. He had then developed a fever and a rash and had attended a walk-in-clinic for the same. It was over a year before the diagnosis could be made accurately.
The researchers at the University of Florida sequenced the virus since August 2016 and at the time Zika virus epidemic was raging in Florida and the Caribbean. They noted that samples were negative for Zika or other viruses. There were mild symptoms in the boy around that time including a fever. There was no sign of encephalitis or a brain infection. The Keystone virus was then detected in the laboratory samples collected from the boy.
At present there are no simple diagnostic tests to detect this virus said Dr. Glenn Morris, director of the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute. But Morris added that there are several biomedical companies who have volunteered to develop diagnostic kits for this virus. The infection is common in Florida but till date no human has been infected. She said that the virus has been around for five or six decades and is native to Florida.
The Keystone virus is known to cause brain infection or encephalitis. The healthcare workers now suspect that there may be several other unidentified cases of this viral infection. Mosquito control and prevention of bits is vital to prevent the transmission of this virus said Morris.
Keystone virus, a California-serogroup orthobunyavirus, was first isolated in 1964 from mosquitoes in Keystone, Florida.