A Mosquito-Borne Virus Discovered in 1964 Affects Humans for the First Time Ever

In 1964, the Keystone virus was discovered in mosquitoes in the Florida area with the same name. Over the years, it has been seen that some animal species that lived in moist areas in the Southern US contracted the virus. However, no report shows that humans were infected.

Moreover, in a study from 1972, a fifth of people in the Tampa Bay area was tested, and scientists saw that the people developed antibodies to Keystone. The virus has never been found in humans, and it was never linked to illness.

Fast forward in 2016, a teenager from Florida got a severe rash and fever, and according to years of study and tests, the Keystone virus is the culprit, probably making more victims, without doctors knowing about it.

In August 2016, the boy went to an urgent care clinic in North Central Florida. At that time, the Zika virus emerged and spread fast in South America, so doctors sent lab samples to the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida. The results came negative to Zika and related viruses.

A Year and a Half Later…

J. Glenn Morris, the director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute, stated that they finally found the virus:

“We couldn’t identify what was going on. 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 case was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The virus is part of the orthobunyavirus genus, which usually infects cattle. These types of California viruses can cause in both animals and humans brain inflammation and even death. Most of the infected people suffer no symptoms, like the teenager from Florida, who survived the infection.

Understanding the Rate of Disease Transmission

Morris added that “all sorts of viruses are being transmitted by mosquitoes, yet we don’t fully understand the rate of disease transmission.”

He concludes that they will need to research more how the diseases spread to “shine a light on the pathogens that are of greatest concern to both human and animal health.”

The mosquito believed to spread the Keystone virus is called the Aedes Atlanticus mosquito. This type of mosquito can also spread the West Nile virus.

Bottom line: use mosquito repellants!

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere