HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The first human case of a mosquito-borne virus discovered in the Tampa Bay area has been found in a teenage boy in north central Florida, according to researchers at the University of Florida.
Researchers believe the virus could be widespread throughout the southeast.
The Keystone virus is named after the location in Hillsborough County where it was discovered.
It was first documented more than 50 years ago and has been found in animals along the coast from Texas to Chesapeake Bay, according to Dr. Glenn Morris, director of UF Emerging Pathogens Institute.
Morris says a 16-year-old boy came into an urgent care clinic with a rash and fever symptoms in August 2016.
The boy was diagnosed with Keystone virus after doctors initially tested him for Zika virus.
Morris says the boy was at band camp when he was bitten by mosquitoes.
The teen did not report any symptoms of encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain, according to Morris.
“The thing about it is, because nobody was looking for it, we have no idea how widespread it is,” Morris said.
Morris says lab results suggest the virus can infect brain cells and may pose a risk for brain infections, but no documented case in a human has been found.
Morris says there’s a need for additional research about the rate of transmission and nature of the virus since the mosquito that carries it is found across Florida.