Florida Teen First Human to Be Diagnosed with 'Keystone' Virus

Florida Teen First Human to Be Diagnosed with 'Keystone' Virus

The teen visited an urgent care clinic in North Central Florida in August 2016 after he developed a fever and rash, according to a new report of his case, published June 9 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

University of Florida researchers recently said a 16-year-old boy was the first human case of the Keystone virus.

In 1972, scientists tested people in the Tampa Bay area and discovered antibodies from the disease in 19 to 21 percent of those studied, according to the release.

Up until this point, medical professionals could only assume that the Keystone virus had the ability to infect the human body, but now there is the first concrete proof that it can.

Symptoms might include a rash, mild fever and encephalitis, brain inflammation.

In 1964, the Keystone virus was discovered in mosquitoes in the Florida area with the same name. Because the Zika virus was then rapidly spreading across South America and had already been spotted in local Florida mosquitoes, the boy's lab samples were sent to the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida. "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".

Long before 2016, however, there were hints that people had become infected with the virus. In particular, it belongs to the California-serogroup of orthobunyavirus. "The infection may actually be fairly common in North Florida", says lead study author John Lednicky. Most of the infected people suffer no symptoms, like the teenager from Florida, who survived the infection.

This assumption aside, the teen's results came back positive for the Keystone virus, which was given to him by a type of mosquito closely related to the Zika mosquito. But given the lack of other suspects, it's the best guess we have. The Florida teenager's case marks the first time that Keystone has been found in humans. And it won't be the last.

"All sorts of viruses are being transmitted by mosquitoes, yet we don't fully understand the rate of disease transmission", Dr Morris said.

However, the Centers For Disease Control warns that as a nation the United States is not adequately prepared to handle these newly morphing viruses and the bugs transmitting them to us.

The researchers say the discovery of the Keystone virus in a person highlights the need for more research into the prevalence of mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S.

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