University of Florida researchers have identified a patient in Haiti with a serious mosquito-borne illness that has never before been reported in the Caribbean nation. Known as “Mayaro virus,” it is closely related to chikungunya virus and was first isolated in Trinidad in 1954. Most reported cases, however, have been confined to small outbreaks in the Amazon. Whether this case signals the start of a new outbreak in the Caribbean region is currently unknown.
“While current attention has been focused on the Zika virus, the finding of yet another mosquito-borne virus which may be starting to circulate in the Caribbean is of concern,” said Glenn Morris, M.D., M.P.H., director of the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute. “Hopefully we will not see the same massive epidemics that we saw with chikungunya, dengue and now Zika. However, these findings underscore the fact that there are additional viruses ‘waiting in the wings’ that may pose threats in the future, and for which we need to be watching.” READ MORE