While the Covid-19 pandemic has not yet ended, scientists are worried about the possibility of new viruses emerging. A virus known as Chapare, for example, is among those that are potentially dangerous. This virus causes fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, bleeding gums, and rashes. Recently, researchers discovered that the Chapare could spread from person to person through bodily fluids.
In 2019, at least five people were infected with the virus in Bolivia. These cases were recorded in an area near the Bolivian capital La Paz, and among those infected, three died of the disease. Before that, health authorities had recorded only one case in 2004 in the rural province of Chapare. So, for 15 years, the virus seemed to have disappeared.
Although experts say the risks of the virus causing a pandemic are very low, there is concern about this reappearance in 2019 as three of the infected patients were health workers and two of them have died.
An important discovery
It was by analyzing a collection of bodily fluids brought back to a government laboratory in Santa Cruz that scientists spotted the first signs of the Chapare epidemic in 2019. According to the information, the doctors who took the samples believed they had business. to dengue fever which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes and causing internal bleeding and fever, just like the infection caused by Chapare. However, the laboratory found no trace of dengue in the samples, nor that of other diseases such as yellow fever and Machupo which are endemic to the region.
The lab then asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the PAHO or Latin America-focused Pan-American Health Organization to analyze the samples. CDC researchers thus discovered fragments of genetic material called RNA and originating from Chapare in the samples in question.
After raiding the outbreak area, CDC scientists determined with help from local experts that RNA from Chapare was still present in the semen of a survivor 168 days after infection with the virus. Rodents collected from around the home of the first person infected in 2019 also showed signs of the virus.
Should we be worried about a new pandemic?
Scientists say the discovery of the Chapare virus is good news because it shows that global health authorities are working together effectively to identify emerging diseases. They said new, potentially infectious diseases have become more and more common in recent years.
They also indicated that there was no need to worry about the spread of the Chapare virus as is the case with the SARS-CoV-2 virus which is currently circulating. Unlike infection with SARS-CoV-2, symptoms of the disease appear soon after infection. In addition, the virus does not spread through the air and requires direct contact with body fluid to spread from person to person. However, the risk may arise from the fact that members of the medical staff caring for the sick may become infected during the period of care.
When it comes to infected rodents, scientists do not yet know if they can infect humans. They encourage people to follow CDC guidelines for small disease-carrying animals like rodents. These guidelines include, for example, sealing off holes inside and outside homes, cleaning up potential food sources, and setting up traps.