Another mosquito-borne virus appears in Haiti — Could it turn into the next outbreak?

Researchers have discovered a virus in Haiti, carried by mosquitoes, that has never before been seen in the Caribbean, according to U.S. News & World Report. Most Mayaro virus cases have been reported in the Amazon. However, the specific strain of the virus found in Haiti is different from those cases. 

Gainesville-based University of Florida researchers identified the virus while studying the outbreak of chikungynya in Haiti. Like chikungynya, the Mayaro virus results in fever and joint pain, however the joint pain caused by the Mayaro virus can last up to one year. Researchers don't yet know if the virus is widespread and if it will be seen in other parts of the Caribbean.

Little is known about the Mayaro virus. It first appeared in Trinidad and Tobago in 1954. U.S. researchers have studied around 40 cases to date in South America. It is a mosquito-borne virus, but researchers do not yet know if it spread by the same mosquito that spreads Zika and chikungynya.

The University of Florida that discovered the Mayaro virus in Haiti was the first to discover the Zika virus in Brazil. At the time, few paid attention to the discovery and the team struggled to gain additional funding to continue studying the Zika virus.

"Everyone was telling us we found an obscure virus that was of no interest to anybody. With Mayaro it'll probably be the same thing," John Lednicky, PhD, an associate professor in the College of Public Health Professions at the University of Florida, told U.S. News & World Report.

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