The recently-discovered Chapare virus causes a fever, vomiting and internal bleeding have found that it can be spread from person to person.
The little-known deadly virus that, which claimed three lives during an outbreak in Bolivia last year, usually spreads to people through contact with infected rodents.
But now, researchers from CDC have confirmed human-to-human transmission, raising concerns about future outbreaks of the disease.
What is the Chapare virus?
Chapare virus was first diagnosed in 2004 in Bolivia when a 22-year-old male farmer died after suffering from a headache, joint and muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding.
A second outbreak was reported in 2019 near Bolivia’s capital city, La Paz – this time with five confirmed cases and three deaths.
Little is known about the virus apart from that it causes Ebola or Dengue Fever-like symptoms and has links to rodents and their droppings. There is currently no treatment, with patients given intravenous fluids and supportive care.
After the latest outbreak, scientists were sent to investigate the origins of the disease and develop a diagnostic test.
Their findings, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH / abstract 151), show the virus can spread from person to person in healthcare settings.
But scientists admit there is still much that remains unknown about the Chapare virus, such as where it originated from, how exactly it infects humans, and what risks there are that a larger outbreak could occur in Bolivia or elsewhere in South America.
Caitlin Cossaboom explains: “Our work confirmed that a young medical resident, an ambulance medic and a gastroenterologist all contracted the virus after encounters with infected patients – and two of these healthcare workers later died. We now believe many bodily fluids can potentially carry the virus.“
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