What is mayaro?
Mayaro is the new virus that concerns scientists. According to the World Health Organization, this virus is transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, the same mosquito that spreads dengue, zika, and chikungunya.
The symptoms of mayaro are similar to those of chikungunya. These include fever, joint pain, dizziness, and headache. For this reason, doctors can confuse mayaro with chikungunya.
Recently, researchers from the University of Florida announced a case of hemorrhagic fever similar to chikungunya. The case was registered in Haiti, and it is the first case in this country.
The virus was first detected in 1954, but until now just some outbreaks had been registered in the Amazon and surrounding areas such as Brazil and Venezuela. Experts considered that this case could be a signal that the virus is spreading in the Caribbean.
Doctor John Lednicky, from the investigating team at the University of Florida explained that “there is no any symptom that distinguishes chikungunya from the fever of mayaro.”
Patients with mayaro experienced the rash and joint pain. The symptoms seem to be a case of zika or chikungunya, but the medical tests revealed it is a case of mayaro.
“We do not know if this is a new virus or if it is a new strain of different types of virus. What concerns is that the virus detected in Haiti is genetically different from those detected in Brazil, added doctor Lednicky.
The case of mayaro was found in an eight-year-old boy from a rural area in Haiti. The child presented symptoms of fever and abdominal pains, but not rash or conjunctivitis, which are associated to chikungunya.
This new virus is concerning because the Matthew hurricane that affected Haiti could spread the mosquitoes responsible for the virus throughout the Caribbean.
The virus was originally transmitted by mosquitoes from the Amazon forest, and only affected the people from that area. But in the case of chikungunya, the virus changed and is affecting people from urban areas.
-Isabel Rangel Baron