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Florida Teen Is First Known Case Of Mosquito-Borne Keystone Virus Infection In Humans

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There's a new mosquito-borne virus that people could worry about. Researchers from the University of Florida have confirmed that the virus called Keystone made the jump from infecting only animals to infecting humans.

16-Year-Old Boy Contracted Keystone Virus

In a report published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases on June 9, the researchers said that the first known case of the Keystone virus has been confirmed in a teenage boy after a year of tests and analyses.

The 16-year-old boy contracted the virus while attending a band camp in Florida last summer. He suffered from fever and severe rash. The boy was tested for Zika and related pathogens because the period when the boy got sick coincided with the Zika virus epidemic in the Caribbean and Florida.

Laboratory samples from the boy, however, came back negative for Zika and related viruses.

It took more than a year before doctors made a diagnosis. They discovered that the patient contracted the Keystone virus after conducting viral cultures.

"There are no reports of isolation from humans, despite studies suggesting that ~20% of persons living in the region are seropositive," the researchers said. "We report virus isolation from a Florida teenager with a rash and fever."

Keystone Virus

The virus can infect the brain cells and pose risk of brain infection. Glenn Morris, the director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida, said that no straightforward test is currently available to identify infection of Keystone virus.

"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," Morris said.

The virus had not been previously found in humans, but Morris said that the infection could be relatively common in northern Florida. He said that there is a chance that the virus continues to circulate in the state as it did for at least five or six decades.

The virus was first discovered in 1964 and has been found in populations of animals. Until now, however, there has been no way to test the virus, which is spread by the aedes atlanticus, a cousin of the Zika carrier and common Florida mosquito.

Morris said he thinks that a lot of the people in the Southeast could be carrying the virus. He also cited the need to conduct further research about the virus and how to decrease risks of infection. 

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are known carriers of disease-causing viruses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the best way to avoid getting sick from these is to prevent mosquito bites.

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