SALT LAKE CITY — Scientists have just confirmed a new virus jump from mosquitoes to humans.
As USA Today reported, scientists believe the Keystone virus could become widespread now that doctors have one confirmed human case: a 16-year-old boy in North Florida.
University of Florida researchers first discovered the Keystone virus in the boy back in August 2016. Medical professionals thought he had the Zika virus since it had been a widespread problem that year.
"We couldn't identify what was going on," J. Glenn Morris, director of the university'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 tested positive for the Keystone virus, which comes from mosquitoes and is often considered a cousin to the Zika virus, according to USA Today.
Researchers said in the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases that the disease could soon spread to more people.
“All sorts of viruses are being transmitted by mosquitoes, yet we don’t fully understand the rate of disease transmission,” Morris said in a statement. “Additional research into the spread of vector-borne diseases will help us shine a light on the pathogens that are of greatest concern to both human and animal health.’’
Currently, there are no plans or ideas on how to cure infected humans.
According to NPR, researchers first discovered the disease in 1964 in the Keystone, Florida area, hence its name.
Since that time, the disease "has been found in animal populations along coastal regions stretching from Texas to the Chesapeake Bay," according to the University of Florida’s statement on the disease.3 comments on this story
The virus can cause a rash and mild fever for humans, according to NPR.
The young boy infected with the disease didn’t suffer from “encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain,” according to NPR, even though the disease has been known to cause those ailments.
"Although the virus has never previously been found in humans, the infection may actually be fairly common in North Florida," Morris said in a statement. "It's one of these instances where if you don't know to look for something, you don't find it."