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The Americas May Be Confronted With A New Insect-Borne Disease

September 19th, 2017

The Americas May Be Confronted With A New Insect-Borne Disease

Brazil has had enough problems with insect-borne diseases. Last year Zika ravaged their population. A record number of newborns were born with microcephaly as a result of the widespread sexually transmitable virus. It must be remembered that when Brazil is at risk for disease outbreaks, then America is also at risk for disease outbreaks. It probably goes without saying that more collaboration between the two countries is a necessity in order to prevent another Zika, or something worse. Hopefully public health experts from both countries have developed better channels of communication. It would be to everyone’s benefit if scientific research concerning insect-related diseases could be more accessible to our neighbors in the south, and vice verse. Unfortunately, there is already plenty of evidence to suggest that another insect-borne disease is on its way to Brazil, and quite likely, beyond Brazil as well. The disease is called Oropouche fever, and it is spread by biting midges.

Oropouche fever is named for a river in Trinidad where it was isolated back in 1955. The virus circulates in monkeys and sloths that dwell within the Amazon Jungle. The virus has caused small outbreaks in the past in countries like Peru, Panama, Brazil and the Caribbean Islands. All of these countries are in close proximity to the continental United States. However, these small-scale outbreaks occurred in rural areas of the countries listed. Only recently has this virus started to show up in more urban territories, such as northeast Brazil, where Zika got its start a couple of years back.

The symptoms of Oropouche fever strongly resembles the symptoms associated with dengue fever. Symptoms include fatigue, headache, high fever, joint pain, meningitis, and swelling of brain tissue. If the fever spreads to the spinal cord, no treatment can prevent death, as no vaccine for this disease has ever been developed. What is most troubling about this disease is the fact that it’s transmitted to humans by biting midges that range in habitat from argentina to Wisconsin.

Do you believe that Americans should be worried about this disease making it into the United States? Do you believe military scientists are already taking serious precautions to prevent this disease’s migration to the United States?

 

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