The Madariaga virus (MADV), which was initially contained primarily to animals in South and Central America, was identified in eight children in Haiti in 2015 and 2016.
The report, published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, said the symptoms in those children most closely mirrored those of dengue fever. Scientists used genetic sequencing to theorize that the virus had crossed over from Haiti sometime between October 2012 and January 2015.
“Our data indicate that this virus, which has the potential for causing serious illness, has recently been introduced into Haiti, and raises the possibility that it might move into other parts of the Caribbean or North America,” the researchers reported.
MADV has the potential to cross to humans from a variety of animals outside the mosquito, including horses, mice, rats, and bats. It is capable of causing encephalitis, but little is known about its life cycle, causes, and greater distribution. In this case, scientists were alerted to the disease during the collection of blood samples from a young girl with acute febrile illness at a clinic surveillance program.