Chapare virus: Scientists confirm rare deadly virus in Bolivia can spread from person to person; all about it

Even as the world is battling with the coronavirus pandemic, which has crippled and infected millions, scientists are still working to identify new threats to humankind.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently discovered a rare virus in Bolivia. The virus in question is capable of human-to-human transmission, and belong to a family of viruses that can cause haemorrhagic fevers, such as Ebola.

According to the scientists, two patients, in 2019, transmitted the virus to three healthcare workers in Bolivia's de facto capital, La Paz.

Two medical workers along with one of the patients later died. Only one small outbreak of the virus has been previously documented, in the Chapare region 370 miles east of La Paz in 2004.

Caitlin Cossaboom, an epidemiologist with the CDC told The Guardian that 'bodily fluids' could potentially carry the virus.

The virus is believed to be carried by rats, which in turn may have passed it to humans. Viruses spread through bodily fluids are easier to contain than respiratory viruses such as Covid-19. The findings were presented on Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH).

All about the Chapare virus
The Chapare virus is in the arenavirus family. Arenaviruses are usually spread to people through direct contact with infected rodents or indirectly through the urine or feces of an infected rodent.

There have been two documented outbreaks of Chapare hemorrhagic fever (CHHF) to date.

The first occurred in 2003 in Chapare Province, Bolivia, which resulted in one fatal case.

The second outbreak occurred in 2019 in Caranavi Province, Bolivia and resulted in five confirmed cases— three of which were fatal.

Chapare virus transmission
Chapare virus is typically transmitted either through direct or indirect contact with the saliva, urine, and droppings of infected rodents.

Examples of direct contact include bites and scratches by infected rodents.

Examples of indirect contact include breathing in the virus when it is stirred into the air or ingestion of food contaminated with the urine, saliva, or droppings of infected rodents.

Human-to-human transmission
An infected person can then spread the illness to other people through contact with the patient's body fluids.

Symptoms of Chapare Virus
Due to the low number of documented cases of CHHF, there is limited information about the progression of signs and symptoms and the incubation period.

The incubation period, or the time between initial exposure to the development of symptoms, is variable and ranges from 4 – 21 days for arenaviruses.

The symptoms include:

joint and muscle pain
pain behind the eyes
stomach pain
bleeding gums
Little is known about possible long-term complications or protective immunity following Chapare virus infection.

As per the CDC, it is still not known if Chapare virus can be transmitted from mother to child; however, other arenaviruses have been documented to cause infection in utero.

Evidence suggests that infection during pregnancy may cause complications, including miscarriage or death of the mother.

Chapare virus treatment
There is currently no treatment for CHHF. Supportive therapy is important for recovery from and survival of CHHF.

This includes:

maintenance of hydration
pain relief
transfusions (when necessary)
Patients who recover from infections with arenaviruses may continue to shed virus in blood, saliva, urine, or semen for months after they no longer have symptoms, the CDC said.

For this reason, these fluids should be monitored for the presence of Chapare virus, since recovering patients have the potential to infect others (particularly sexual partners or other household members) via these fluids.

Source : DNA India