First Chikungunya and now Zika have “gone viral (literally) in the Caribbean and South America. It is unknown why these viruses went from relative obscurity in the African rain forests to become widespread epidemics.
They are not the only viruses being transmitted in the Caribbean by mosquitoes. Mayaro virus, which is related to the Chikungunya virus is also transmitted by mosquitos. Reported symptoms include (but are not limited to) high fever at 40 °C, joint pain, myalgia, headache, asthenia and some diarrhea.
The primary transmission zones are in Brazil and French Guiana. Tourists from France have been diagnosed with Mayaro* on their return from French Guiana. Mayaro virus has also been detected in some of the Caribbean Islands. The similarity of symptoms produced by mosquito vectored viruses is challenging medical authorities with identification. A viral infection may be misreported based on symptoms alone. Genetic diagnoses are more reliable, but are underutilized because of the cost. The focus on Zika has led to more genetic testing for viruses and is detecting less common viruses such as Mayaro. Research on these diseases can potentially lead to better identification, management programs and health outcomes.
*Marion Llagonne-Barets & colleagues. A case of Mayaro virus infection imported from French Guiana. Journal of Clinical Virology. Volume 77, April 2016, Pages 66–68