The Mosquito-Borne Keystone Virus Has Made The First Known Jump Into Humans

  |   Tech News

When a 16-year-old boy showed up at a north-central Florida urgent care centre in August of 2016, no one could figure out what he was infected with. According to a report recently published on the case in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the boy (who remains anonymous) had a fever of around 100 degrees. A rash that started on his chest was spreading to his abdomen, arm, back, and face. It was aggravated by heat and sunlight, though didn't cause pain.

The boy said that he'd been bitten by numerous mosquitoes while attending band camp. The case appeared in the midst of the Zika outbreak, but the teen tested negative for Zika, Chikungunya, and dengue. However, in one of the urine samples collected by doctors, researchers eventually identified a virus that's been known to infect animals, including squirrels, racoons, and whitetail deer: Keystone virus.

This was the first time that a Keystone virus infection has been confirmed in a human, though it's known to be widespread among animals in the southeastern US, from the Chesapeake Bay to Texas. The disease comes from a virus family that's known to cause encephalitis or brain inflammation. And it's a reminder that there are always emerging diseases to be watching out for.

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