UF researchers find mosquito-borne virus called Keystone in human for first time


With summer comes mosquitoes. Florida has seen Zika to West Nile-- but University of Florida researchers have now found a new mosquito borne virus, and it’s called Keystone.

"We are beginning to suspect that it may be more prevalent than expected, and nobody was looking for it," says Caroline Stephenson, a UF graduate research assistant.

Earlier this month in Tampa, a teenage boy at band camp went to urgent care for a fever and rash. After multiple misdiagnoses, doctors sent cells to the University of Florida, and that’s where they found the Keystone virus.

"A lot of viruses have similar symptoms, they commonly present with rash, fever, and so if you present with something like that in the doctor’s office it’s really hard for them to figure out what it is," says Stephenson.

Turns out, this virus has been found in animals like white tail deer, squirrels and racoons, but they have never seen it in a human--until now.

"This is one of those viruses we know very little about," says UF Research Professor John Lednicky.

Thankfully, the teenage boy is okay, but researchers are now trying to understand why he was the only one infected at camp-- they say, it may be because he recently moved to Florida.

"Floridians never received a rash, but he did,” says Lednicky. “People in Florida have been already exposed to it, and have antibodies to it."

Researchers say this virus has been exposed to many people in the area.

"Almost all the inhabitants in this area have been exposed to this virus and didn’t even know it," says Lednicky.

Researchers say there is still no test for doctors to quickly find this virus, but believe it isn't life threatening

"It's probably one of these annoying viruses that people get," says Lednicky.

And say, they will continue to learn more about this virus and how it could affect you.

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